Huw was born in Bridgend, Glamorgan and graduated from University College, Cardiff with a first-class degree in French.  He joined the BBC as a news trainee in 1984 and originally worked for BBC Wales and S4C, but then moved to become a reporter for BBC TV’s Panorama (1993).  Some of Huw’s later roles: parliamentary correspondent, BBC Wales (1986 – 1988); political correspondent, BBC TV News (1988 – 1997); chief political correspondent, BBC News 24 (1997 – 1999).

He was also a relief newsreader, BBC TV News (June 1994 – September 1996) and became a permanent member of the newsreading team from May 1999, as the main anchor of BBC One’s BBC News at Six.  He would go on to become the main anchor on the BBC News at Ten from January 2003.  In 2005, Huw stepped in to present children’s news programme Newsround and in April 2006, he began presenting the new BBC News at Five programme on the BBC News Channel.

Read More

Jack was a popular BBC TV forecaster (17th May 1969 – 4th May 1983) and for many years was the senior forecaster.  He also presented forecasts on BBC Radio.  He was a Met Office employee (1941 – 1983), working on RAF stations (1941 – 1968).  He recalled his broadcasting career in a 1994 BBC Weather Centre press release: “I allowed my name forward for a television forecaster post and after an interview and two auditions went to the London Weather Centre for a half-day training session with Peter Fettes, a brilliant training officer (former BBC announcer/presenter in the 1940s and 1950s) who cleared me for radio and in early 1969, I joined the TV team.  We now had our own office at TV Centre and worked there half the time.  I worked in tandem with Graham Parker and Bert Foord having internal trial runs and eventually made my debut broadcast, one which in those days was recorded in the late evening for broadcast at closedown, around midnight.

“I had a habit of winking at the producer’s assistant immediately after the end, merely to indicate our success. I was shocked one evening to notice on the monitor that I was still on camera during the wink. A week later Richard Baker received a letter from a young girl (Susan aged 12) and it read: ‘Dear Mr Baker, you should know that Jack Frost doesn’t give us the weather – God does.  And Jack Scott seemed to know that, because he winked at you at the end.’  In the early 1970s, we persuaded the Met Office and the BBC that four forecasters were necessary to run the roster so Keith Best joined us.  At the beginning of 1974, both Graham and Bert were promoted and Barbara and Mike joined the team.  At that time the Met Office had a ‘dedicated posts’ policy wherein most jobs related to a particular grade.  It was this policy that forced both Graham and Bert off the TV.  When I was promoted in 1975, the BBC insisted to the Met Office that I stayed.  I was now in charge of training and made regular visits to the Met Office Training College and when the BBC had regional Met Office weathermen I studied videos of their forecasts and John Kettley was eventually chosen by this method.

Read More

Nan was co-presenter on BBC TV’s Information Desk (1955 – 1956) and Mainly for Women (1957).  She was a reporter on BBC TV’s Panorama (c. 1959) and presented on BBC regional TV’s Town and Around (1959 – 1960) and Living Today (1962 – 1963).  She was a panellist on Call My Bluff (1967 and 1969).  She was also a BBC TV in-vision announcer (1958 – 1961) and has a unique place in broadcasting history, as she was the first female to read the national news on BBC Television (19th June 1960 – 14th March 1961) and not Angela Rippon, as many people still mistakenly claim.

Nan later complained about her treatment in the Daily Mail (1964): “I suffered at the time.  I suddenly felt like a Jew or a Negro and now I understand a little better how such people feel when faced with prejudice and discrimination.  I believe there is certainly discrimination against women in this country.  There were times when I was doing the announcing when I wanted to shout aloud like Shylock ‘hath not woman eyes, ears, senses?’  In Italy and Spain they have women newsreaders who are beautiful and sexy too. We’re afraid of that here.”

Nan was invited to the 25th anniversary reunion of BBC TV News in July 1979, but declined to attend as she was not interested in being remembered for her TV work.

Read More

Muriel was born in Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield, Co Durham.  On leaving school, she worked briefly as a librarian.  She attended art college, before deciding to embark on a career as an actress.  She joined a repertory theatre in Henley-on-Thames, where her uncle was directing.  She subsequently performed at the Gateway Theatre, London and the Theatre Royal in Chatham.  Trying to get into the film industry, she did modelling for advertising agencies, including promoting products such as toothpaste.  She also studied to be a dental nurse and used her artistic talents to paint glassware.  Starting out as an actress, she starred with Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall in The Constant Husband (1955) and also featured in The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953) in a segment featuring The Mikado.

Muriel had a screen test for a BBC TV announcer position on 24th June 1952.  In 1955, as the first ITV company (Associated-Rediffusion) was gearing up to launch, she intended to attend an actors’ audition at the company, but mistakenly went to an audition for announcers instead. Nevertheless, Young was instantly hired and announced for Associated-Rediffusion on 22nd September 1955, the opening night of commercial television in the UK.  She worked as a presenter and interviewer for regional programmes on Granada Television and Southern Television, and as a disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg.  She was cast alongside Peter Sellers in the movie I’m All Right Jack (1959) as an announcer, without the director knowing that it was in fact her real-life job.

However, her career could have easily taken a different route. Just before joining ITV, she had been on stage touring with Eamonn Andrews, in a game show called Double or Drop.  Shortly after signing her ITV contract, he told her that he had sold the idea to the BBC.  It was later used as part of the children’s show Crackerjack!

Read More

Charles was born into a naval family, in Rochester, Kent.  He was educated at Westminster School and joined the BBC as a finance clerk in January 1975.  The following year came his ‘lucky break’ when he applied for a job as clerk to Radio 4’s The World at One and PM programmes and ended up presenting a sports round-up on the Saturday edition of PM.  His first broadcast was 24th April 24 1976 and he was, in his own words “appalling”!

The following year, Charles went on a training attachment to BBC Radio Oxford where he spent a blissful summer in the Parks commentating on university cricket.  It didn’t last, as the BBC HR department said if Radio Oxford couldn’t give him a full-time job he had to go back to central directorate accounts as he was “being exploited”!  His protestations that he didn’t mind being exploited fell on deaf ears and he was hauled back to London kicking and screaming. By January 1978 though his days as a “don’t wannabe accountant” were over, as he secured another attachment, this time to BBC Radio 4 as an announcer.  Within six weeks the attachment had become a full-time position.  He was still just 22 and the youngest ever staff announcer.  Continuity announcing and eventually news reading soon made him a familiar voice to radio listeners but, not one to let the grass grow underneath his feet, in the summer of 1980 he had his first look at the world of television with an attachment to TV presentation; joining the team of voices behind the iconic spinning BBC globe.  He also had his first taste of in-vision work when he was sent to BBC East in Norwich for six weeks which required him to read the close-of-day news bulletin.

Read More

Barbara was born in 1939.  She joined the Met Office in 1957 and until 1962 worked in the library and editing department at Harrow, sub-editing and proofreading meteorological publications; in 1962, she moved to Bracknell HQ to undertake similar work.  From 1963 until 1970, she worked as a forecaster at Gatwick and Heathrow Airport.  Barbara was based at the London Weather Centre forecasting for commerce and industry (1970 – 1979) and has the distinction of being the first female national BBC TV forecaster, appearing from January 1974 until June 1978; she was also heard on BBC Radio during the same period.  She was the BBC One Christmas Day weather presenter once, in 1975.

Prior to leaving the Met Office in 1980, she worked in the public services department at Bracknell’s HQ, dealing with enquiries and guided tours.  Barbara left the BBC TV team, as she disliked the constant criticism of her dress sense, which the male members of the team didn’t have to contend with.  She joined past colleagues on Nationwide to celebrate the 25th anniversary of BBC TV Weather in January 1979, in which Bob Wellings interviewed past and present weather forecasters.  She also attended a get together for BBC TV Weather’s 40th anniversary in January 1994.  Barbara returned briefly as a relief weather presenter on BBC TV’s Breakfast Time (1984).

Read More

Valerie was an actress.  She was RADA-trained (1955 – 1957) and worked in the theatre initially.  She later worked at Tyne Tees Television as an announcer and interviewer for the regional news magazine programme North East Roundabout (1959 – 1960); she left the programme in 1960 to marry James Sargent, who was stage manager of the Sadler’s Wells Opera Company.  Valerie also worked at Granada Television, Associated Rediffusion and Anglia Television during this period.

Valerie joined the BBC in 1960 as an in-vision BBC TV announcer, working alongside Judith Chalmers, Meryl O’Keeffe and Sheila Tracy in the evenings.  She later introduced the first space flight with Yuri Gagarin (12th April 1961) and was on duty when the first satellite pictures from the USA, via Telstar, were received to Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall (12th July 1962).  She went on to present regional news programme South Today (1964) and the arts magazine programme Town and Around which would lead to her famous marriage.  She interviewed a variety of people including Rudi Lance and his chimps from the Bertram Mills Circus, and the Russian clown Oleg Popov (1930 – 2016).

Read More

Peter had a very distinctive, deep, rich voice.  He was an announcer at Southern TV (1969 – 1971) and a newsreader for BBC Norwich’s Look East.  He moved to BBC Television Centre in 1971, taking on a network announcer post.  He would remain in that role for 30 years, before taking redundancy and retiring in 2001.  Sadly, Peter died following a sixteen-month battle with cancer, aged 63.  A memorial service was held on 19th May 2007 and his brother-in-law Simon Brett, broadcaster and writer of radio and TV comedies, gave the main address.

Former Tomorrow’s World producer and director Michael Blakstad wrote about Peter for the East Meon History: “Simon chronicled Peter’s ‘global’ career, starting in East Meon and moving to New Zealand in his twenties.  His glorious voice and English accent found favour with local radio stations, so that is where he got his first experience behind a microphone.  Peter decided to return home at a time when the New Zealand government was anxious to attract more residents and offered citizenship in return for completing a single form, so Peter became a Kiwi as well as a Brit.  He came back to Hampshire, joined the BBC as an announcer, met Mirabel and married her.

Read More

Geoffrey was born in Stockport and attended drama school in Manchester.  For generations of pre-school viewers, he was the popular presenter known to viewers as ‘Geoffrey’.  He appeared in over 1,000 editions of Thames TV’s long-running children’s series Rainbow (1973 – 1991).  He joined after the original presenter, actor/writer David Cook, decided to leave to concentrate on other work.  He tipped off Hayes, having performed alongside him in repertory theatre.  Geoffrey would remain with the show for the next two decades.  He also wrote for the programme and appeared on The Sooty Show (ITV, 1977) and Altogether (ITV, 1981).

He became typecast and found new acting and TV jobs hard to find.  He later used his Rainbow celebrity to appear in pantomimes and summer seasons.  He appeared as a taxi driver in a video for Oasis tribute band No Way Sis’s 1996 single I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, mimicking (sort of) Patrick Macnee’s appearance in Oasis’s Don’t Look Back in Anger video.  Four years later, he appeared in a Virgin Money TV commercial driving a cab (again).  In 2002, he staged a one-man show Over the Rainbow, at the Edinburgh Fringe.  He also appeared with Bungle in the Tony Christie/Peter Kay charity single (Is This The Way To) Amarillo.  He made guest appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks (2002) and Pointless Celebrities (2015).

Read More

Leslie was a BBC radio announcer (1934 – 1936) and was the first BBC TV in-vision announcer, based at Alexandra Palace (1936 – 1938).  During the war, he was a regular narrator for the British Movietone News newsreel, shown in cinemas across the UK.  When BBC Television opened up again after World War II, he was preoccupied with prospects in the film business.  He became an interviewer on BBC TV’s Picture Parade (1946 and 1948 – 1951) and also presented Come Dancing (1950).

Leslie defected to ITV in 1955, to join Associated-Rediffusion Television in London, where he became chief announcer.  Such was his legendary status, that A-R TV’s striking station clock was later nicknamed ‘Mitch’.

Leslie’s autobiography, Leslie Mitchell Reporting was published by Hutchinson in 1981.

Leslie died aged 80.

Read More