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

Adrian is a Welsh journalist.  He joined the BBC in 1988, working in local radio as a reporter and producer.  He later moved to national radio, becoming a newsreader on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 and an occasional presenter of the latter station’s overnight programmes in the final years of newsreaders performing that role.  He was an announcer at BBC Wales for a short period in the first half of 1991, before moving to network presentation in London.  He remained there until 1993 when he moved to Carlton for six months, then Anglia for a six-month stint, before returning to network BBC One and BBC Two (1994 – 1995).  His wife was a network director in presentation.  Adrian left to join BBC World in spring 1995 and for a while freelanced as an announcer at LWT in 1995 and 1996; around the same time he was also the pre-recorded voice of the Channel 4 schools strand and made a short appearance as a news anchor in the movie V for Vendetta.

Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Adrian in August 2017 and asked him about his broadcasting career: “I started at BBC Wales as a self-op out-of-vision continuity announcer (we also directed/vision mixed the Wales Today news opt-outs during daytime programming) in January 1991.  BBC network presentation (Richard Straker) asked me to join them in London, but could only offer rolling six-month freelance contracts.  I took the plunge and left my staff position in Cardiff as by then I was already freelancing at Radio 1 (I started doing that while still working at BBC East in Norwich – and I was also doing a lot of voiceovers in Soho through an agent) and Wales felt a little too far away from everything.

Read More

Ian was born John Robertson McCaskill in Glasgow.  His national service took him into the RAF and in 1959, he joined the Meteorological Corps.  He left in 1961 to join the Met Office and later postings included Prestwick Airport, Malta and the Manchester Weather Centre.  Ian transferred to the London Weather Centre in 1978 and was part of the BBC TV team (2nd October 1978 – 4th July 1979 and 23rd September 1983 – 14th June 1998).  He also presented forecasts on BBC Radio (1991 – 1998).

His energetic manner on-screen led to many impersonations and he even had his own Spitting Image puppet.  A little known fact is that Ian always presented his forecasts shoeless as the static electricity in his body caused the microphone to crackle!  On a break from the BBC team, he worked at Birmingham Airport and appeared on Central TV.  Ian later made occasional appearances on BBC TV’s Breakfast Time (1985 – 1986) and Breakfast News (1992), and was the BBC One Christmas Day BBC weather presenter three times (1978, 1983 and 1987).  In 1987, his colleague Michael Fish was ridiculed for saying a hurricane was not going to happen, just a few hours before it did.  Later – much later: 18 years in fact – Ian confessed to being the guilty party who had given Fish the forecast that day.

Read More

Nana was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in July 1971 (as Nana Akua Amotemaa-Appiah), after her parents came over from Ghana in the 1960s.  She relocated to the US with her parents, aged 11, but would later return to the UK and study business and finance at university.  She has worked for Kiss 100 (1995 – 1997) and Capital FM, initially in a business capacity but she also provided voiceovers.  In her spare time, Nana worked as a DJ at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Radio.  Spotted by Richard Park, she was offered a trainee post as a DJ on Capital FM’s Café. She soon had her own drivetime show at London-based commercial radio station Fusion 107.3.

A chance meeting later led to a job as a launch presenter for Bid-Up TV.  She later presented on Price Drop TV also.   Primetime BBC One then beckoned, with a presenting role on the Holiday programme (2006 – 2009).  Other TV roles included hosting live game shows on Sky One (2007 – 2009), Sky Movies and ITV.  She also presented Brainbox, which was broadcast across Africa (2008 – 2010).

Read More

Born in Thurnscoe, West Riding of Yorkshire, Leonard began his career as a reporter on the Wakefield Express series of weekly papers, then Yorkshire Observer, Bradford Telegraph and Argus and Yorkshire Evening Post.  He was one of the BBC’s early television news reporters in the BBC News division (1954 – 1960) and was later BBC Radio News Canada correspondent (1960 – 1965) and Washington correspondent (1963 -1965).  In November 1963, as deputy correspondent in Washington, his Radio Newsreel report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy proved to be an historic recording.  He also worked as a reporter on BBC TV’s Panorama (1965 – 1967).  He was involved in coverage of five general elections: BBC reporter (1966); ITN reporter (1970, February 1974, 1983) and ITN presenter 1979.

Leonard moved to ITN, initially as a reporter and newscaster on News at Ten (when the programme launched in 1967).  Between 1976 and 1987 he was, along with Peter Sissons, one of the main presenters for ITN’s News at One and often anchored the News at 5.45 (1979 – 1987).

Read More

Susan presented various BBC TV children’s series during the 1970s: Country Search (BBC One, 1975 – 1977); Play It Again… (BBC One, 1975); BBC Manchester’s The Sunday Gang (BBC One, 1976); Horses Galore (BBC One, 1977 – 1979); BBC Manchester’s sports series Stopwatch (BBC One, 1978 – 1980).  She was also a guest on All-Star Record Breakers (BBC One, 1975 – 1980), a panellist on Star Turn (BBC One, 1976, 1977 and 1979), and a reporter on We’re Going Places (BBC One, 1979).

Susan presented The Horse of the Year Show (BBC One, 1978), The Southampton Boat Show (BBC Two, 1978) and The Country Game (BBC One, 1984), before she moved into local news, presenting on BBC TV South West’s Spotlight, in the mid-1980s with Chris Denham.  Susan was then poached to co-host Today, TSW’s flagship news programme, with Chris Rogers.  Ironically, Chris left a few months later to anchor Spotlight, so the Beeb got its revenge!  Shortly afterwards, Today was relaunched as TSW Today with a new set and titles, and Susan became the main anchor, assisted by Dominic Heale at the news desk, and Pete Barraclough on sport.  Sue was visibly upset by the loss of the TSW franchise and was quite emotional during the final minutes of the last TSW Today programme on 31st December 1992.  Sue was also a stand-in presenter for Mike Scott on two editions of ITV’s daytime discussion programme, The Time…The Place… (1988).   Susan bounced back and a few months later could be found up the M5 in Bristol, co-hosting HTV News with veteran newsman Bruce Hockin and also hosted HTV West’s Gardening Calendar and A Taste of the West.

Read More

Zeb trained as an actor and graduated from the University of East Anglia where he was spotted by the BBC.  He initially worked in the newsroom at BBC Radio Norfolk before moving to London in September 1998 to join the Presentation department at BBC Television Centre as a continuity announcer on BBC One and BBC Two.  In September 2001, he took a six-month attachment to BBC Radio 4, returning to TV as the first voice to launch the new digital channel BBC Four on 2nd March 2002, where he remained its sole announcer for ten months.  He returned to BBC Two briefly, where he signed off for the last time at 12.30am on Friday 7th February 2003 and took up a full-time position at BBC Radio 4 the following Monday.

He is a Radio 4 newsreader for those who wake up to Today and has become well-known for reading the shipping forecast.  He is also regular on BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz, reports for From Our Own Correspondent and has presented BBC Radio 3’s Saturday Classics.  Sunday Times readers voted him their favourite male voice on UK radio in July 2015.

Read More

Carol was born in 1941.  An actress, she studied drama at The Royal Academy of Music and was a qualified teacher who presented many schools series for Granada TV and Central TV including: The Messengers and Enough to Eat.  Carol was the 23rd presenter on Play School making her first appearance on 28th February 1966, which was the start of a 22-year association with the programme, giving her the distinction of being the longest-serving presenter and also the presenter with the most appearances – 763 editions – and one of only four presenters to appear in all three decades.

During a tour of Pink String and Sealing Wax she was asked to audition, as she recalled in an interview with Paul R. Jackson when they met up again at her London home in January 2009: “I got in on Play School by chance.  I heard about the audition through a friend who was working at the African Service for BBC World Service and was then going out with producer Michael Grafton-Robinson.  She suggested to him that I would be suitable and I went along in place of another girl who was sick; my name wasn’t even on the list.

Read More

Sarah was a RADA-trained actress.  She was best known as a Play School presenter.  She made her debut appearance on the programme on 6th September 1971.  Producers John Lane, Peter Ridsdale-Scott and pianist Jonathan Cohen all agreed that Sarah wasn’t a good singer.  However, she was a lovely actress and was given another chance, and worked well on screen.  Their judgement proved right, as she stayed on the presenting team for a further 15 years.  The earliest surviving footage within the BBC archives of Sarah on Play School is Friday 10th September 1971 and archivist and author Paul R. Jackson viewed the programme.  It was a little odd that when Sarah showed items to be used in the Pop Goes the Weasel song, that she couldn’t make a brown paper bag burst – but this was kept in the final recording.

Sarah met fellow actor Peter Baldwin in 1961, when they appeared together in a production of Romeo and Juliet which toured Europe and America.  The couple married in 1965.  He was best-known for playing long-running character Derek Wilton in Coronation Street (Granada TV, 1976 – 1977, 1979, 1984, 1986 – 1989 and 1991 – 1997).  Their daughter Julia later worked as an assistant floor manager on Playdays.

Sarah died far too young, aged 49, from cancer.

Read More