When the BBC’s Third Programme started in 1946 it had its own continuity announcing team consisting of Alvar Lidell, Patrick Butler (who made the opening announcement), Christopher Pemberton, Marjorie Anderson (later of Woman’s Hour renown) and, on a part-time basis Denys Drower. By the early 1950s Alvar and Marjorie had left and joining the team were Richard Baker (later of BBC TV news fame), Tom Crowe and Peter Fettes.
From around the mid 50s to early 70s announcers potentially worked across all the networks. From 1972 Radio 3 had its own Presentation team led by Cormac Rigby. The post of Presentation Editor was later held by Piers Burton-Page and Donald Macleod.
In 1995 the then Controller of Radio 3 Nicholas Kenyon had ambitions to shake-up the network, partly driven by the imminent arrival of Classic FM. That shake-up included the announcing team who were told that “not all of their services will be required in the future”. Three of the team stayed as ‘presenter-producers: Piers Burton-Page, Chris de Souza and Andrew Lyle; three remained as announcers: Penny Gore, Paul Guinery and Susan Sharpe; but three long-serving members were made redundant: Peter Barker, Tony Scotland and Malcolm Ruthven. This move signalled the end of the separate announcer role as the remaining announcers eventually became programme presenters and/or producers.
Below are audio clips and ‘capsule’ biographies for the Radio 3 announcing team in the late 70s. I may add further team members at a later date by editing this post. Further audio and information may also be added and I would welcome any contributions from readers of this blog.
|Radio 3 Presentation Team in 1972. Back row (r to l): Jon Curle, Victor Hallam, Tony Scotland, Donald Price, Cormac Rigby|
Front row: part of Tom Crowe, Peter Barker, Patricia Hughes, Robin Holmes, Norman Mcleod
Trained at RADA and worked for several years as an actor. Joined the BBC in 1962 as announcer across all the radio services. Presenter on Morning Melody on Radio 4 in the late 60s. Moved to the Radio 3 team in 1972 later presenter of Concert Hall. Reader on Quote…Unquote (Series 18). Retired in 1992.Peter Barker
Michael BerkeleyPrincipally a composer but joined the announcing team in 1974. Left the staff in 1979 but returned as one of the presenters of Mainly for Pleasure. Still on the air hosting Private Passions every Sunday.
Piers Burton-PageJoined the BBC as a studio manager before becoming announcer/newsreader on Radio 4 and then Radio 3 in 1977. Music Organiser for the World Service until 1985 when he was back at Radio as Presentation Editor. Became one of the presenter-producers from the early 1990s. First presenter of On Air. Left the BBC in 1997.
Joined the BBC as announcer on the General Overseas Service in 1950. Moved to the Light Programme and then joined the Third Programme in 1952. Left in 1962 returning in 1967. Retired in 1982. Briefly an announcer with the South African Broadcasting Corporation.Tom Crowe
Jon CurleAn actor recruited as an announcer in 1959 by Peter Fettes, by then Head of Staff Training. Worked on all networks but much featured on the Light Programme. Worked on programmes such as The Men from the Ministry, Friday Night is Music Night, It’s One O’Clock, Night Ride, Matinee Musical, The Best of Broadway, Mainly for Pleasure, Sounds Familiar and Whacko.
Victor HallamNo details available.
John HolmstomRadio announcer from 1951 and with the Third Programme from 1954. Presented The Critics on the Home Service.
Joined the BBC as a secretary in 1944 before becoming an announcer on the General Overseas Service in 1946. Later on the Home Service, Light Programme and Third Programme. Left the BBC in 1962 to look after her family, returning in 1969 initially freelance and then back on the staff in 1970. Allocated to the Radio 3 team where she stayed until retiring in 1983. Claimed to be the first woman newsreader on BBC radio as Radio 3 announcers also read the news but this claim is usually attributed to Sheila Tracy on Radio 4 in 1974. Described as having a “dark brown voice” by The Listener (14 June 1979). In contrast one-time network controller Stephen Hearst wanted to “get rid of that terrible woman with the Kensington voice.” One of the readers on Quote...Unquote from 1994. Died in 2013.Patricia Hughes
Donald PriceNo details available
Joined the BBC as a radio announcer in 1965 in response to an ad in the New Musical Express. In 1968 attached as a programme planner for the Third Programme (by then part of Radio 3). Became the Presentation Editor in 1972. Presenter of Royal Repertoire and Come to the Ballet (on Radio 2). Left in 1985 to join the Catholic priesthood. Died in 2007.
Worked in orchestral management including General Manager of the Ulster Orchestra. Joined Radio 4 in Northern Ireland in 1972 before transferring to Radio 3 as announcer and presenter of Playbill. Reader and narrator under the name Gregory York. Designed the Talking Notes service for the South Bank Centre.Malcolm Ruthven
Became a reporter on leaving school and then emigrated to Australia where he worked on the Sydney Morning Herald and then as a reporter for ABC in Tasmania. Returned to UK in 1968 joining the BBC reported on Look East and then as radio news sub-editor Joined the Radio 3 announcing team in 1972. Created and produced The Arts Worldwide. Worked at Classic FM from its launch in 1992 until 1998. Now freelance writer and author (‘The Empty Throne’ ‘Lennox and Freda’) and still occasionally broadcasting.Tony Scotland
Roy WilliamsonBBC studio manager in 1956 becoming an announcer on the Light Programme in 1957. On the Music Programme in 64-65 with Your Midweek Choice. Was a newsreader on Radio 4 and presented Town and Around on BBC TV.
On BFBS in Egypt in 1950 before joining the BBC as a studio manager in 1953. Worked in both radio and television as a drama director. For a time at the BBC in Manchester where he gave Ray Moore his first job in radio. Written and read the Morning Story on Radio 4. Announcer and newsreader on Radio 4 and then Radio 3 from 1979.David Willmott
Other Radio 3 announcers from this period were Robin Holmes, Anthony Sargeant, Anthony Burton and Andrew Lyle.
All the recordings in this post are from my own collection. Biographical information has been compiled from my own notes, internet research, Who’s Who on Radio by Sheila Tracy and The Envy of the World by Humphrey Carpenter.
Edit 23 April 2011: Add photos for Piers Burton Page and Cormac Rigby. Minor edit to David Willmott biog.