Saturday 31 October 2020

The name's Connery. Sean Connery

This weekend we're mourning the death of Sean Connery. Of course the plaudits and obits have all focused on his career defining 007 role but as this is a radio blog I've been looking elsewhere.

Connery's radio appearances were few and far between but inevitably focused on his films as well as his other passions of golf and Scottish nationalism. To my knowledge he only made one starring role in a radio programme and that was in a BBC Radio 3 drama series written by Peter Barnes.  

Playwright and screenwriter Peter Barnes had adapted a number of plays for BBC radio by the time he wrote an original set of monologues that were broadcast in 1981. Barnes' People had a glitzy cast that included Alec Guinness, Leo McKern, John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft. Barnes' People II, a series of duologues appeared in 1984. Barnes' People III with casts of three was heard in 1986 and the final series More Barnes' People followed in 1990. Sadly they've not been heard since.

For the first drama of Barnes' People III,  called After the Funeral, director Ian Cotterell gathered together Sean Connery, Donald Pleasence and John Hurt. Connery flew in from Spain for the recording, Pleasence jetted in from France while Hurt "trotted along from Chiswick."

The black comedy centres on a trio of pimps - "upmarket flesh meddlers" - who are lamenting the passing of Anna "the First lady of Brotheldom." At the end they honour her memory by clinking glasses and singing Unforgettable.

The Radio Times had this article about the series written by David Gillard. 

Here is that drama not heard since a 1987 repeat. (With apologies for the sound quality).  

Sean Connery 1930-2020

Thursday 29 October 2020

Down Your Local - 50 Years of BBC Radio Oxford

Radio arrived in Oxford on Thursday 29 October 1970 with the opening of the BBC's latest local station. It served an area of about a 20 radius of  Oxford, transmitting on 95.0 MHz from the site east of the city at Beckley that had originally been built in 1963 to carry national VHF radio and a VHF television relay.     

The studios were at Barclay House on Banbury Road in Summertown. The medium wave service on 202m was added in late 1972. By the spring of 1989 the station had moved five minutes up the road to new premises at 269 Banbury Road. Between April 1996 and February 2000 it merged with Radio Berkshire to become BBC Thames Valley FM.    

The first station manager was Donald Norbrook, who'd moved down from Radio Merseyside where he was the programme organiser. He promised the usual mix of specialist shows that the early stations all tried to fulfil and, bearing in mind it was a major centre for learning, said that they would involve both university students and staff. "The students have taken a very responsible interest in local radio. They have visited the studios; they're anxious to play their part".

As to broadcasting hours Norbrook confirmed that there'd be an early 6 am start. "Oxford is an early rising city; the workers keep agricultural hours, so I suppose you could say our three programmes are: one for the workers, one for the clerkers and one for the shirkers." These were three hourly editions of Oxford AM at 6, 7 and 8 o'clock taking national news, rather unusually, from Radio 3. The title Oxford AM was used until the mid 90s.

The first edition of Oxford AM was heard on day two as the station went on air at 5 pm with a typical  civic welcome from the local mayor. One of the teatime shows was Oxford Circus (a title that was eventually dropped in the mid-80s) with Keith Salmon. Keith had joined the BBC in 1961 as a studio manager and was at BBC Radio Nottingham as a producer and presenter when it launched in 1968. In 1982 he became the manager at BBC Radio Norfolk staying at the station until his retirement in 1995.   

Following Oxford Circus (running at just half-an-hour) was another half-hour show of record requests called Home Choice. Presenters included David Bobin and Thomas Prag. David was a newspaper journalist when he joined Radio Oxford. He left the station in 1975 to work at Southern TV and later TVS as a news and sports reporter. Increasingly specialising in sports reporting and presenting he moved to Sky Sports in 1993. He died in 2017. Thomas Prag had a distinguished radio career having started at the BBC as a studio manager for the World Service and the domestic services before becoming a station assistant (later producer/presenter) at Radio Oxford. He moved to Scotland in 1976 to help launch the Radio Highland opt-out before being offered the role of MD at Moray Firth Radio when it launched in 1982. He left that role in 2000 and subsequently worked for the Radio Authority and OFCOM and is a co-director at iMedia Associates.    

The opening evening included a specially-written drama production The Balloon Goes Up telling the story of James Sadler, the Oxford-born pioneering balloonist, amateur chemist and pastry chef. This was produced by Humphrey Carpenter who'd joined the BBC in 1968 as a General Trainee. He went freelance in 1975 and wrote a number of biographies (including Tolkien, Auden and Britten), broadcast on Radio 4's Kaleidoscope and Radio 3's Night Waves and In Tune. Carpenter's The Envy of the World remains the definitive history of the Third Programme and Radio 3. He married fellow Radio Oxford presenter Mari Pritchard in 1973. He died in 2005 aged just 58.

Now best known for his stints on LBC, Talk Radio and talkSPORT it's Mike Dickin who got to try out the station's radio car in Parking Disc. "Mike Dickin parks the car, you choose the disc."

The longest-serving presenter on the station is Bill Rennells who was heard reading the news on day one. A newspaper journalist he'd joined the station from the Oxford Mail. He'd actually made his first broadcast a couple of months before this on attachment to Radio Nottingham but at Oxford he soon started to present general and music programmes. Bill became a staff announcer on Radio 2 in 1978 where he also presented You and the Night and the Music, Nightride, Easy Does It and String Sound. He continued to appear on Radio Oxford (Saturday Sounds) and also presented Test Match Special on Radio 3. He returned to Oxford in 1991, appeared on Saga Radio in 2004/5 and for the last 20 years has been presenting the Sunday night show Harmony Nights.     

Introducing Musicmakers is Michael Henderson. Michael had been working for the BBC immediately after the war as a studio manager for the BBC's Overseas Services before transferring to the television OB unit at Ally Pally. He left broadcasting in the 1960s to become a childcare officer in Oxfordshire but returned in 1970 for the launch of Radio Oxford. He retired after six years and went on to manage the sport and arts centre in Abingdon. He was also instrumental is forming the Alexandra Palace Television Society. He died in 2001.

Oxfordshire's kids could join in the fun on Saturday morning's The VHF Set with Johnnie Chuckles, the stage name of children's entertainer John Davis. Other presenters there at the start included Gordon Kitchen, Andy Wright and John Simpson (not to be confused with the BBC's news correspondent).  

Throughout the 1980s one of Oxford's best-known voices was that of Mark Kasprowicz. A former BBC assistant film sound engineer he switched to Radio Oxford from 1975 where he hosted Oxford AM and the mid-morning phone-in Open Air. He left in 1991 and is now MD of Arcwind Ltd. 

Libby Purves had been studying English at Oxford university when she started to volunteer at the station on About the University and later a 5-minute local guide called Tourist Trap before taking up a staff post. She joined Radio 4's Today programme in 1976 as a reporter and became a presenter alongside John Timpson and Brian Redhead between 1978 and 1981. Libby appeared on Midweek with Henry Kelly in 1983 and was the main presenter of the programme from 1984 to 2017.  

Programme Organiser Owen Bentley looks ahead to some programmes
when the station launched in October 1970. (For some reason the Radio Times
calls him Owen Beatty)

Tony Adamson had got the broadcasting bug as far back as 1960 when, as part of his national service, he volunteered for the British Forces Network in Libya. At Radio Oxford he presented the sports coverage as well as taking his turn on Oxford AM. He left for the Sports and OB department in London in 1977 to work on Sport on 2 eventually becoming the radio tennis correspondent and then golf correspondent on Radio 5 and Radio 5 live.

Fellow sports broadcaster Garry Richardson's first BBC job was actually as a clerk at the Written Archives at Caversham. He started to help out at Radio Oxford before becoming a full-time station assistant in 1978. He moved to London, initially on an attachment, in late 1980. By the mid-80s he was one of the sports correspondents taking turns on the Today sports desk, a gig he still retains to this day. Between October 1999 and September 2019 he presented Sports Week on 5 live.  

Mary Small was on Radio Oxford in the first half of the 90s, at one point presenting the drivetime show. She was also continuity announcer on BBCTV and, in 1995, on Radio 4. For many years a World Service presenter and newsreader.

Phil Rapps was at Oxford from the late 70s to mid 90s and for a while in 1982 worked as a continuity announcer on Radio 2. 

Jazz FM's David Freeman was on Radio Oxford between 1978 and 1991, from the mid-80s hosting the lunchtime show. His broadcasting career began in 1969 for BBC schools, he was at Radio Solent when that launched in 1970 and later presented Pebble Mill at One. Programme controller for Jazz FM 1996-98 and he rejoined the station in 2008. 

Timmy Mallett's radio career started at the student-run station University Radio Warwick (now named RAW 1251AM it also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year). Leaving uni he joined Radio Oxford in late 1978 immediately developing a devoted audience for his lively weekday afternoon show which became the Timmy on the Tranny Club billed as "the programme for cosmic zapheads, loony lurkers; the show that does for homework what squeezing does to spots." Timmy left the station in 1981 to work on the short-lived Centre Radio and then onto Piccadilly with a weekday evening reincarnation of Timmy on the Tranny where one of his on-air assistants was Chris Evans. A tv career that included Wacaday followed.  

Voice of Siri and The Weakest Link Jon Briggs had two spells at the station. Initially from 1984 and 1989 on the Saturday morning show Ten to One On and then Oxford AM and Saturday AM. He was the Radio 5 co-host of Morning Edition (1990-92), Radio 4 announcer (1992-93) and Radio 2 announcer (1992-97). Later on LBC and Radio 5 Live. Announcer on Channel 4, Sky Movies. Back on Radio Oxford throughout 2012 with the Saturday breakfast show.

Radio Oxford schedule for w/c 12 April 1986

Andrew Peach was another Oxford student turned broadcaster, at first reading out the travel bulletins. On Radio Oxford from 1994 to 2004 with shows such as Peach for Lunch and a regular Saturday mid-morning programme. Also worked for Radio Solent, Radio WM and newsreader on Radio 2 (1998-2015). Currently heard on Radio Berkshire's breakfast show, announcing and newsreading on Radio 4 and on the World Service's Newshour.     

Jean Judge was a production secretary and then researcher at BBC Scotland where she worked on the daily radio soap Kilbreck. Moving to Oxford in 1982 she presented The New Sunday Supplement, Where There's Folk and later had a daily mid-afternoon show. Left to go the States in 1989. 

Mike Carson had two spells at Radio Oxford, in the early 70s after some initial experience on hospital radio and again in the mid-90s (including a turn on Oxford AM). Heard on LBC 1973-91 and later Melody Radio, continuity announcer on LWT and BFBS TV and he's the voice of JML on those in-store promotions.

Stewart Cameron got his radio break when, as a young athlete, he was interviewed by Bill Rennells who then encouraged him to make reports for the Saturday afternoon sports coverage. In time he would regularly report on football and rugby. By 1981 he was presenting 202 Country. He left for Fox FM in 1989 where he presented both country music shows and sports programmes. Later on QCMR (CMR Nashville), Radio Scotland, Radio Borders and talkSPORT.

Author Jonathan Hancock also studied English at Oxford before joining the station. First on air in  1994 presenting Sunday Requests and Saturday Morning Fever and from 2000 to 2004 the weekday and Saturday breakfast shows. Has since written a number of books on memory and learning.   

US-born broadcaster Bill Heine was a much-loved broadcaster on the station between 1983 and 2016. Famous for his shark house Bill presented the weekday mid-morning show for many years and had a Sunday talk show until his departure in 2016. He died in 2019.

Extract from 1977 BBC booklet Serving Neighbourhood and Nation

Others who have appeared on BBC Radio Oxford include:

Bob Harris: presented the afternoon show 1981-84

Phil Mercer-Kelly: on since 2004. Previously at AA Roadwatch and Premier Radio.   

Danny Cox: at  Oxford (2004-09) having worked at Radio Leicester, Trent FM, SGR Colchester and Fox FM. Moved to Mix96 as programme controller (2009-11) and for the last 8 years works for the BBC World Service as a studio manager and presenter of The Newsroom. Back on Radio Oxford since 2015.  

Martin Stanford on the station c. 1979-81 then Radio Northampton, Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC South (Radio Solent and South Today), BSB News, Sky News (1999-2016) and currently on LBC News. 

Jonathan Staples: at Oxford 1985-87 then Radio Cambridgeshire, 6-month stint at Radio 4 in 1988/89 as an announcer followed by BFBS Radio, LBC, News Direct 97.3 and Radio Northampton. Now runs a video production company.

David Clargo: on air in 1993-97. First radio job at GWR in Bristol. Later assistant editor at Radio Oxford, acting manager at Radio Leicester, manager at Radio Northampton and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. Now a trainer for the BBC Academy.  

Peter York: a former pirate radio jock (Radio City) and club DJ who also worked at BBC Radio Birmingham.

Allan Roberts: on-air 1977-79. Previously at Voice of Peace. After Oxford onto Swansea Sound, Severn Sound, GWR then producer at Radio 2 and World Service.

Jill Egglesbury: on the station in the late 70s, previously at Radio Stoke.

Sally Bourdillon: mainly weekend presenter in the early 80s.

Rev Michael Doe: presented Sounds for Sunday then Spirit Level during the 1980s.

Rev Hedley Feast: presented the Sunday morning religious slot throughout the 90s when it was originally called Spirit Level.

Fiona Foster: one-time ITV newscaster was on the station in 1985-86. 

Jeremy Dry: at Oxford 1998-2004. Previously at Radio Lancashire, BBC H&W and LBC.

Jan Edwards: on the station 1999-2004. Previously at Fox FM. Moved to live in Mallorca and has broadcast on Mallorca Sunshine Radio.

Jo Theones: on-air 2007-2012. Previously at Capital FM in Nairobi and Fox FM in Oxfordshire. Now on BFBS at Brize Norton.

Phil Kennedy: at Oxford 2006-12. Previous stations include Radio Jackie, Top Shop, Radio 1, Key 103, The Superstation, GLR, Virgin and Heart. Currently on Radio Berkshire.

Phil Gayle: at Oxford 2011-15. Previous stations included BRMB, Signal, Rock FM, LBC, Radio Newcastle and Radio Berkshire. Currently presents the international news for Deutsche Welle.

Anne Diamond: hosted the breakfast show 2004-06.

Charles Nove: weekend breakfast and then weekday breakfast shows 2011-18

Will Gompertz: the BBC's arts editor was on the station 2014-17

David Prever: on Radio Oxford since April 2013. 

Further listening:

Archive Clips from the 1970s to the 2010s

Radio Conversations: Libby Purves

Radio Conversations: Thomas Prag

Timmy on the Tranny (1981)

Tribute to Bill Heine

With thanks to David Ballard.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Down Your Local - 50 Years of BBC Radio London

The capital had to wait until 6 October 1970 to get its own radio station. The station was based in Harewood House in Hanover Square, a building rented by the BBC and just a 10-minute walk from Broadcasting House. That proximity was important as many of Radio London's broadcasters would make the trip up Regent Street when they joined the national networks. Later the station moved to the old Radio Times offices at 35A Marylebone High Street and in 2009 to the redeveloped New Broadcasting House.

Radio London's transmission area was defined as that covered by the Greater London Council, then just five years old, and the largest of any of the BBC local stations. Initially just on 95.3MHz VHF from the transmitter at Wrotham in Kent it added 206m MW from Brooksman Park in September 1972 and moved to 94.9 MHz from the same site in March 1973. Stereo broadcasts started in February 1981 from the transmitter at Crystal Palace.  

The first station manager was Peter Redhouse who'd come from a news and current affairs background as part of the editorial team on Radio 4's Today. This was reflected in Radio London's schedule which offered three key news magazines each day: Rush Hour, Capital City and Home Run. Peter moved on in 1976 (replaced by Allen Holden) to become general manger of the local radio unit until his retirement in 1987. He then worked with his son to help set-up the communications agency Redhouse Lane Communications Ltd becoming the company secretary. Peter died in 2012.

Here's the opening day schedule for the station:

Fortunately a couple of recordings from that opening day have been kept.

This is Radio London presented by David Simmons provides a guide to some of the voices and programmes on the new station.

The opening show, after a short introduction from Peter Redhouse, is Rush Hour with a rather nervy Tom Vernon. Radio London retained the Rush Hour title for its morning show until it closed in 1988 to become Greater London Radio. As with most of the BBC local stations they called upon the services of the Radiophonic Workshop for their jingles, in this case composed by John Baker. The programme's opening theme is Burt Bacharach's Bond Street from the soundtrack of Casino Royale. Soundtracks remained an important part of the musical output - we hear a tracks from West Side Story and Darling Lili later in the show - as they weren't included in the virtually non-existent needletime allocation. 

This was Tom's first regular radio work. He'd previously had a career in teaching and PR and had dabbled in song-writing which led to occasional appearances on the Today programme where overnight he’d write a song about a current news story for broadcast the next day. Indeed he's written a song for the opening of the station heard at about 35 minutes.

Tom presented other programmes such as A Better Place to Live, Weekly Echo and Look, Stop, Listen and produced the classical music show In Concert which was hosted by Michael Oliver (later a presenter of Radio 4's arts magazine Kaleidoscope and Radio 3's Music Weekly). Tom continued to appear on Radio London for the rest of the decade but had spells on Radio 4 as a producer on Kaleidoscope and reviewing the weekly news magazines on News Stand. In 1979 Tom became the first presenter of Radio 4's Feedback and later that year undertook the first of his cycling adventures in Fat Man on a Bicycle. This series was produced by Joy Hatwood who had herself worked at Radio London as a the arts presenter/producer.

Providing some of the news reports in this first edition of Rush Hour were Charles Thompson, Gaynor Jones (who had her own programme That Jones Girl) and Stephen Ladd (who was also heard on Radio Northsea International under his real name Stephen Oliver). Others on the news team included Michael Vestey (joined from the Sunday Express and from 1973 was a BBC national news reporter and presented The World Tonight) and Laurie Mayer (who'd joined from the Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard and would go onto Radio 1's Newsbeat and then on BBC TV and Sky News).  

Radio London's mid-morning offering was aimed at housewives with a "lively and interesting topics linked by music". Woman in Town ran until early 1975 initially presented by Hilary Osborn who'd started at the BBC as a secretary then studio manager before joining the station. She went on to work as a television continuity announcer (LWT, TVS and Meridian) and announcer on Radio 4 (1984) and Radio 2 (1986-90). Hilary was succeeded by Chris Mohr who in turn appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour and became a BBC tv producer (Did You See? and Video Nation). 

Post-lunch musical entertainment was hosted by David Carter in his Lunch a La Carter show. David had been a music producer on the Light Programme and Radio 1 (Late Night Extra) as well as Thames TV. When Lunch a La Carter ended in 1972 David continued to present (Pop Shop) and also produce a number of music shows.

An early influential music show was Breakthrough presented by Steve Bradshaw. It offered a mix of live sessions, demos, poetry and live and recorded interviews. John Peel was a fan claiming that "that Steve and Breakthrough are doing is almost exactly the kind of thing I wish I were doing for Radio 1". Steve left the show in 1973 but it continued for another 15 years under the guidance of Mike Sparrow. Steve went on to report for Newsbeat, Radio 4's current affairs magazine File on 4 and for Panorama.

Here's a selection of Radio London jingles from John Baker, Paddy Kingsland and their first full package from Syd Dale's Amphonic Music.

These programme clips date from June 1971 and August 1972 and include the voices of David Carter, Hilary Osborn, Steve Barnard, Robbie Vincent, Steve Bradshaw, Laurie Mayer, Frank Dawes, Mike Sparrow, Bob Trevor and Susie Barnes.  (Audio has been edited from recordings uploaded by Things Found on Old Reels blogspot).

Moving on to the week commencing 27 March 1971 one of the most familiar names is that of Robbie Vincent here presenting Saturday's Messages and Music and on Sunday sticking his mic under the noses of hospital patients in Bedside Microphone. A year or so later started his long-running Saturday show imaginatively titled It's Saturday (later just The Robbie Vincent Show) which started as a general dedications show but morphed into a soul and funk show running until 1984 (after which Jeff Young presented a similar music show). In 1974 he gained a daily late show Late Night London and from 1977 a replacement to the existing daily phone-in show Call In known as the Robbie Vincent Telephone Programme "the lunchtime show that gets London talking. " He stayed with Radio London until it became GLR in 1988, though by then the daily phone-in was hosted by the Fred (former taxi driving Mastermind champion) Housego.  During his time at Radio London Robbie also worked for Radio 1 with a soul and disco show (1977-78), a youth-orientated talk show Talkabout (1982) and a soul, funk and fusion show ("if it moves, funk it!) between 1983 and 1989. he then joined LBC and later appeared on Kiss and Jazz FM.  

Looking after Home Run this week (and also the Wednesday night Sounds Good "for hi-fi enthusiasts" plus the daily show for under-sevens Listen Children) was David Simmons who was with the station at its launch having previously worked at pirate station Radio 390 and in West Africa and Switzerland. David would present Call In when it started in 1972 and the same year took over the Saturday evening from Mike Raven on Radio 1 playing r'n'b, soul and reggae. (There are a couple of airchecks on YouTube). David stayed with the station until the end of the decade taking over Late Night London and a number of soul shows (Soul 77, Soul 78 and, yes you've guessed it, Soul 79).    

Another member of the launch team was Susie Barnes (billed here on Sunday's Friends and Neighbours as Susan Barnes) who stayed with the station until it's 1988 rebrand, and indeed co-presented the final show with Mike Sparrow. Susie presented a number of programmes on the station including Rush Hour, the mid-morning London Live, a late-night 10 to midnight show and, by the mid-80s an afternoon show.

Starting a couple of months after this Radio Times listing was You Don't Have to Be Jewish with Michael Freedland which ran until 1988. The title came from a US poster advertising bread that read "You Don't Have To Be Jewish to enjoy Levy's Rye." The programme covered a variety of topics from religion and politics to comedy and music  and included phone-ins and documentary style reports. It continued on LBC until 1994. A newspaper journalist by trade Michael had started broadcasting in the mid-60s reporting for Woman's Hour and Home for the Day. On BBC Radio 2 over a period of four decades he wrote and narrated dozens of shows about American singers and songwriters and Hollywood stars. 

Radio London took its music programmes seriously as this schedule for the week beginning 29 September 1973 shows, just a couple of weeks before the launch of Capital Radio.

Sunday afternoons offered rock journalist Charlie Gillett's Honky Tonk which he presented between 1972 and 1978. This was followed by Steve Barnard's Reggae Time. Steve is credited with being the first black DJ to play reggae music on British radio. It was "required listening for fans of the music ... as there was no one else airing the music". He would later broadcast on London pirate station JFM. When Steve left in 1977 the show became Reggae Rockers (later Rockers FM) with Tony Williams and, for a year or so, the legendary DJ David Rodigan.

Sunday at 3pm it was London Country with Bob Powel. Bob became the editor of the  Country Music People magazine and ran a record shop in Saint Paul's Cray for a number of years. He presented London Country between 1971 and 1988.

"Progressive and contemporary pop music" show Fresh Garbage aired at 5 pm. Taking its title from a track on the debut LP by US rock group Spirit it was presented by Andy Finney from 1971 to 1973, indeed this billing is the final show. Andy recalls that Judy Collins was his live interview guest on that show which also featured a regular Obscurity slot with music journalist John Tobler. Initially Andy split his time between Radio Stoke in the week and Radio London at weekend. At London he was the voice of some of the test transmission announcements, he worked on the Saturday afternoon sports coverage, presented a number of editions of Breakthrough between 1973 and 1979 as well as Single File, the station's answer to Rosko's Round Table. In the 1980s Andy moved to work for BBC Television where he was one of the first people in the Corporation to research and develop interactive media, as part of the Interactive Television Unit and co-founder of the BBC's Domesday project.

Meanwhile for jazz fans there was All that Jazz with jazz writer Brian Priestley. Other specialist music shows that came along later include Stuart Colman's Echoes, Eastern Ear with Geetha Bala and Vernon Corea (previously on Radio Ceylon and later the BBC's Ethic Minorities Advisor), Mad on Jazz with Gilles Peterson, The Great Composers with Adrian Edwards and various funk and soul shows with Dave Pearce.

Extract from 1977 BBC booklet Serving Neighbourhood and Nation

A couple of other names to pick up on this 1973 schedule are Jeanine McMullen with Read All About It. Jeanine was one of the first presenters of Radio 4's You and Yours. Looking after weekday afternoons was Richard Vaughan. Richard was with the station for 8 years. He also had a brief stint on Radio 2's Early Show in 1978, reported for Radio 4's holiday show Breakaway, worked for LBC and BFBS and has commentated for numerous sporting events on a range of TV channels.

On Sunday morning at 10.02 am is Exposure, a magazine show about photography which can't have been easy on radio! One of the presenters is photographer Roger Clark who continued to broadcast on the station into the 1980s on Corridors of Power, Inside London and Hold the Front Page. You can see more of Roger's photos on his website.    

Presenting Rush Hour this week was John Toogood (who was also heard occasionally on Radio 2 in the '80s). Other presenters of Rush Hour over the years included Tony Fish (later in the BBC Training Unit, Programme Organiser at Radio York, Station Manager for Radio Newcastle and Managing Editor at Radio Shropshire), Susie Barnes, David Simmonds, Nick Lucy, Astley Jones (for many years a Radio 4 newsreader), John Waite (Radio 4's You and Yours and Face the Facts), Piers Bishop (TV announcer and on Radio Brighton and Radio Sussex), Anne-Marie Grey (who'd been filling in on Black Londoners and would later present Radio 5's Caribbean Magazine), Brenda Ellison (ex-Radio Hallam and later LBC News) and David Edwards.  

With the Saturday afternoon mix of music and football results The Other Programme is Paul Owens. Paul's main show from 1975 to 1979 was the weekday afternoon show 206 Showcase. He left to set up commercial station Devonair and was later on County Sound, Pirate FM, Fox FM, Star FM, The Eagle, The Quay and Time 106.

Jumping ahead to April 1986 many of the original names are still on the station but by now a very famous name was occupying the mid-morning show. Tony Blackburn had joined Radio London in 1981 to host an afternoon show whilst still appearing at the weekend on Radio 1. He left Radio 1 in 1984 by which time he'd already moved to the morning slot where he was getting saucy with London's housewives and whipping out a 12-incher to play; it was as well that the rest of the UK were spared this.

On Saturday's Jeff Young was getting all soulful and funky. Jeff was also on Radio 1 at this time where his Big Beat dance show was a Friday night regular in the last half of the '80s. He was later on Jazz FM, Kiss FM, Capital and XFM.  

Malcolm Laycock, here presenting Those Swinging Years, also moved over to national radio when he took over the Dance Band Days and Big Band Era shows following the death of Alan Dell. Malcolm had been with Radio London since 1974 initially producing a number of their education programmes (Getaway, In the News, What Now? and Know What I Mean?) and also co-producing Black Londoners which initially was also came under education programming . He eventually started to present show such as Track Record and was part of the team on London Live, a weekday afternoon show that " takes a look at people, events and ideas in London." In between leaving Radio London and joining Radio 2 Malcolm helped establish Jazz FM and formed an independent production company Encore Radio.

The two what's on guides London  Weekend and London This Week were presented by David Bartley and Guy Hornsby. Guy had been presenting a similar Saturday morning  guide Weekend What's On since 1979. He was also a reporter on the arts magazine Look, Stop, Listen (presented by Mike Sparrow) and would go on to produce Tony Blackburn's shows for the station and an award-winning documentary series for the World Service called Sweet Soul Music. Later he launched Ocean Sound in 1986 and was programme controller for the Southern Radio Group and MD then CEO for Faze FM Radio (with Programme Controller Mike Gray who had also co -presented with Guy on Radio London) which ran the Kiss stations in Manchester and Leeds.

Another reporter on Look, Stop, Listen was Sarah Dunant, a producer on Radio 4's arts magazine Kaleidoscope and later one of team presenting BBC2's The Late Show but now a successful novelist. 

By 1986 the arts programme was called Big City. The arts editor was Nick St George who'd started his radio career at the World Service before moving to Radio Birmingham and then  Radio London. Moving to tv he worked on the Channel 4 Daily, was joint MD for the production company Heavy Entertainment before returning to radio for Testbed Productions and a producer for Radio 4 Extra. His Big City co-presenter was Anthony Denselow, freelance at the time but joining the BBC as a full-time arts producer mainly on Kaleidoscope and Radio 3's Night Waves.  

Finally Black Londoners, a groundbreaking radio show that had started in November 1974, initially monthly then weekly from September 1976 and then every weekday from May 1978 for the remainder of its run to October 1988, thus becoming the first black daily radio show on UK radio. Keith Yeomans and Barry Clayton (brought over from Capital Radio) were asked to produce it and they found Alex Pascall, (pictured above) a Grenadian-born musician to present it.     

Black Londoners mixed news, discussion, interviews, reports, music and comedy. It proved so popular that one survey found that 59% of black Londoners listened to it. In time Pascall would help organise the Notting Hill Carnival and in 1982 he co-founded The Voice, Britain's first weekly Afro-Caribbean newspaper. By the time of this programme schedule Pascall was sharing presenting duties with Sonia Fraser and Hilton Fyle, best known for Network Africa on the BBC's African service. Reporters on the show included Vince Herbert and former Hackney Gazette journalist Juliet Alexander , both of whom worked on BBC2's Ebony.

Other broadcasters heard on BBC Radio London between 1970 and 1988 include Jill Evans, Louis Marriott, Jenny Thompson, Diana Rice, Michael Meech, Norman de Mesquita, Mike Field, Nick Handel, Nick Worrall, Roger Hurrell, David Kremer, Simon Reed, Tony Grant, Tony Freeman, Frank Dawes, Colin Maitland, Harold Bohla, Steve Walsh, Andy Peebles and Gary Crowley. 

The first incarnation of Radio London came to end at 7 pm on Friday 7 October 1988. After 17 days of test transmissions it re-launched as Greater London Radio (GLR). Matthew Bannister and Trevor Dann dropped virtually all the Radio London on-air team with the exception of Dave Pearce, Sonia Fraser, Andy Peebles and Gary Crowley. "This is a new station so we want to avoid any comparisons with Radio London", said Bannister.

The final show We're Just Stepping Outside, We May Be Gone Some Time was hosted by Susie Barnes and Mike Sparrow.

In time GLR relaunched as BBC London Live 94.9 in March 2000, became BBC London 94.9 in October 2001 and went back to its original name of BBC Radio London in October 2015.

In October 2010 marked its 40th anniversary with this special show presented by Tony Blackburn, though it does rather concentrate on the GLR era. 

With thanks to David Ballard for his help in locating Radio Times back issues.

Sunday 4 October 2020

You and Yours - A Brief History

You and Yours
has been championing the rights of the consumer and providing advice on matters of finance, legal issues, travel and holidays, food and drink, health, lifestyle, work, planning, money-saving tips and a myriad of other subjects for five decades. The programme's first edition aired on BBC Radio 4 on 5 October 1970.

In 1970 Radio 4 already had a smattering of programmes that dealt with a range of consumer issues (more on those in a moment). But the idea for some kind of umbrella programme was raised by the then controller Tony Whitby in May of that year following a departmental meeting about the "possible incorporation of the present service programmes in your department...into a daily magazine as 12 noon on weekdays."    

Introducing You and Yours, Stephen Bonarjee, Editor of General Current Affairs wrote for that week's Radio Times: the logic is that, over the years, and over the pages of Radio Times, there have been scattered a number of valuable programmes dealing with listeners' various problems, on an ad hoc basis, never interrelated. All these aspects of direct concern will now be gathered together in one sequence."

The programme was initially scheduled in a 25 minute slot at 12 noon Monday to Thursday and just 15 minutes starting at 12.10pm on Fridays (to accommodate schools programmes). "We feel that this is a suitable time", said Bonarjee, "we hope one that is convenient for listeners. A high proportion of the matters discussed will be relevant to women, although not exclusively so. And women tend to be around at midday, to listen."

At first the programmes was broadly themed by day. Monday was money, Tuesday home and family, Wednesday rights and responsibilities, Thursday health and welfare and on Friday leisure. 

You and Yours swallowed up four existing programmes. Perhaps the best-known and longest-running of these was Can I Help You? which dealt with legal, social and financial issues. It had started in October 1939 as  a series of fortnightly talks billed as "Questions that are puzzling people in these difficult times are answered by two well-known broadcasters". Those broadcasters were Herbert Hodge and Thomas Thompson. Hodge was (some four decades before Fred Housego) a cabdriver turned writer and broadcaster. Thompson had made his name writing about Lancashire life for The Guardian and the Radio Times and broadcasting for the North region. 

After a few months Douglas Hougton became the main name associated with the programme in which he dealt with "the questions people ask him and the problems arising from the many regulations with which we all have to deal nowadays." Initially on the Home Service and later the Light Programme Can I Help You? only really came into its own under Dudley Perkins (pictured above) who presented it throughout the 1950s. Perkins was a solicitor and at one time Assistant Director of the BBC's Legal Department. He also talked about legal matters on Woman's Hour and a You and the Law feature on the BBC tv afternoon magazine Home at One-Thirty (1961-2). Perkins received sufficient listener correspondence and interest in legal matters to publish a 1959 book Can I Help You? looking at topics such as buying or renting, hire purchase, sale of goods and making a will.  

For most of the 1960s Can I Help You?, by now back on the Home Service (later Radio 4), adopted more of a magazine style rather than a straight talk. The main presenter was the staff announcer Robin Holmes and reporters included Marjory Todd, Joan Yorke (a long-time reporter on Woman's Hour), Pamela Deedes (solicitor and a regular contributor to Woman's Hour), Elizabeth Mitchell and Laurie Sapper(who became a leading Trade Unionist). All, except Marjory, would also appear on You and Yours.    

A partner programme was Money Matters (1952-1963), a series of weekly 5-minute talks often given by Gordon Cummings (1953-55) and later Edward Leader (1956-61). It became part of Can I Help You? from Jan 1964.

Another programme subsumed into You and Yours was Listening Post which read out listeners correspondence on current issues. For most of its run it was scheduled to follow the 10 pm weekday news, only occupying a 12 noon weekly slot in the last few months of its run in 1970. it was variously presented by Kenneth Kendall, William Hardcastle, John Thompson, Douglas Brown, Leslie Smith, Audrey Russell, Walter James, Polly Elwes, John Ellison, Giles Playfair, Nan Winton, Anne Allen, Tim Matthews, Walter Taplin, Gilbert Phelps, John Anthony, Jill Tweedie and Antony Brown. 

You and Yours also picked up some of the issues covered by Parents and Children "a forum in which parents can talk about their children." This had first appeared in late 1957 as part of the Study Session on Network Three, the daytime service on the Third Programme's wavelengths. Initially under the direction of Eileen Molony who throughout her career concentrated on programmes to do with education and child development ranging from Children's Hour in the 40s to BBC tv Schools programmes in the 60s. Parents and Children moved to the Home Service in 1964 and for much of its run was presented by former Talks producer and interviewer Leslie Smith who also appeared on Woman's Hour, Frankly Speaking, Taking Issue, Listening Post, In Touch, Home This Afternoon and many schools programmes.     

Yet another programme that became part of You and Yours was  In Practice, a medical magazine with Joan Yorke that had started in April 1968 and by late 1968 was weekly on Thursdays at 12 noon.

And finally there was You and Your Money had a short run over the summer of 1970 and was presented by journalist and one-time ITN newscaster Antony Brown.

The first edition of You and Yours was presented by Joan Yorke. No recordings exist but it included items on home ownership, an interview with Lesley Vickers who'd just written the book Buying a House, and an interview with the Chairman of the Building Societies Association. Other topics in the first week covered DIY trends,  pensions for the over eighties, 'Pangs of Parting', 'Tomorrow's Living Rooms' and 'Firework Hazards'.

Despite some initial concerns that the programme would not have the time to deal with subjects in any depth or that it might provide inaccurate or misleading advice, it soon got support at the Radio Review Board. Controller Tony Whitby was happy that "the programme's practical, down-to-earth approach was exactly right. It deals with matters that are of daily concern to ordinary people". It clearly met the remit of providing a public service function.

There are very few early complete editions in the archives. From 7 June 1971 comes this edition presented by former World at One reporter Nancy Wise looking at household budgeting with Borehamwood housewife Mrs Jay and Tim Matthews on cheap holiday accommodation plus Ken Sykora reports on rheumatoid arthritis. 

From 3 February 1972 an edition with John Edmunds, former ITV announcer and at the time a BBC tv newsreader. It includes a report from Joan Yorke on the growth of health centres and investigates school uniforms.

Joan Yorke is presenting this edition from 15 February 1972 looks at teacher's pay, the life of a fireman, textiles research and features an increasing number of listeners' letters.

Derek Cooper was already a familiar voice on radio and television when he presented You and Yours between 1970 and 1974. In this edition from 25 May 1972 he starts by tackling a subject which would later be close to his heart when he devised and presented The Food Programme in an interview with Dr Lyall Watson about his new book Omnivore: The Role of Food in Human Evolution. There's are also a report from Lucille Hall on a subject that remains critical today, that of elderly residential care and a feature on child development.   

By 1980 the original theme had been dropped and we have one that sounds like a Radiophonic Workshop creation. In this short clip Nancy Wise (at the time the longest serving presenter) co-presents with Bill Breckon who'd been reporting on medical matters since 1973.

In this clip from 6 May 1983 Bill is presenting with ex-Radio Bristol's Jenni Mills.

From 9 May 1983 the programme had a revamp with new presenters Paul Heiney and, from Nationwide's 'Watchdog' feature Pattie Coldwell. The other major change was that the programme no longer relied solely on listeners' letters to generate feedback but finally saw fit to open the phone lines "inviting the audience to tell us their stories", though it would be some years before callers were put on air in the regular programmes.

If you missed any vital information you could always send off for a fact sheet, at least until the internet came along. The You and Yours brand was also extended with programmes such as Call to Account and Call You and Yours.

For one of the 40th anniversary shows Julian Worricker looked at the changes in communications over the preceding four decades.

Since 2000 the You and Yours regular presenter has been Winifred Robinson alongside Peter White, who's been involved with the programme since the 1990s. It moved from Broadcasting House to Salford in 2011.   

Roland White hails the crusading work of You and Yours 
in the Radio Times 22 August 1998 

The influence of You and Yours and the expansion of consumer-based radio programmes continued throughout the decade and into the 1980s. These include the hard-hitting investigative Checkpoint with Roger Cook (1973-85), Money Box (1977- ), It's a Bargain with Norman Tozer (1977-84), The Food Programme (1979- ), looking at travel and transport Going Places (1977-98), radio's answer to the Holiday programme Breakaway (1979-98), Medicine Now with Geoff Watts (1980-98), Law In Action (1984- ) and exposing "serious cases of injustice, fraud, abuse of power and incompetence" Face the Facts (1986-2015). Consumer issues were also tackled on many a BBC local radio show and a revamp of Jimmy Young's show when it moved from Radio 1 to Radio 2 eventually saw the introduction of features with the Legal Beagle (Bill Thomas), Legal Eagle (Andrew Phillips) and Tony D'Angeli of The Grocer. On BBC Radio Ulster Linda McAuley has been presenting On Your Behalf for 25 years.  

The 50th anniversary edition of You and Yours falls on Monday.

Presenters of You and Yours over the years have included: Joan Yorke, Derek Cooper, Nancy Wise, John Edmunds, Ken Sykora, Jeanine McMullen, Nigel Murphy, George Luce, Roger Cook, Lyn MacDonald, Mavis Nicholson, Mari Prichard, Bill Breckon, Sue Cook, Margaret Korving, Molly Price-Owen, Andy Price, Jenni Mills, John Howard, Paul Heiney, Pattie Coldwell, Paul Clark, Susan Rae, John Buckley, Debbie Thrower, John Waite, Chris Hawksworth, Margaret Collins, Roisin McAuley, Linda Lewis, Tasneem Siddiqi, Daire Brehan, Michael Collie, Liz Barclay, Chris Choi, Lesley Riddoch, Mark Whittaker, Trixie Rawlinson, Peter White, Charlotte Smith, Winifred Robinson, Diana Madill, Carolyn Atkinson, Sheila McClennon, Stuart Flinders, Julian Worricker, Shari Vahl, Louise Minchin, Andrea Catherwood and Melanie Abbott. (List only includes those broadcasters presenting more than 10 editions as per BBC Genome listings and Radio 4's online schedules).

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