Since launching the site in autumn 2018, we’ve added hundreds of talent profiles, with many hundreds yet to come. Among the featured talent, there’s a mix of familiar faces and voices, past and present. On this page, we present a selection of the profiles where we’ve had the opportunity to correspond with or interview the subject. It’s by no means an exhaustive list – there are many other great profiles featured on the site – but we hope you’ll enjoy this small selection.
Our Twitter account will keep you informed of all the latest site updates, as well as occasionally providing exclusive material, not featured on the site. We’d be grateful for your support there:
Former BBC TV network announcer CHARLES NOVE talks to us about his days in BBC TV Presentation, and recalls a time as a BBC Scotland TV announcer when he forgot to put the Presentation desk in circuit, meaning a local farming programme was not being transmitted.
Former BBC TV and radio announcer CLIVE ROSLIN recalls memorable moments from his career, including the early days of BBC Two, working alongside Mel Oxley: “We disliked each other intensely and were very competitive.”
Former BBC TV network announcer MARK WADDINGTON talks to us about his days in continuity. “I recall I was asked if I had gone to either Cambridge or Oxford University.” And the night the Brit Awards fell off air, six minutes before the end of the show: “I had only expected to speak for 30 seconds…I had to rabbit on for quite some time…it must have gone OK, because channel controller Michael Grade phoned up immediately to thank me for covering it so smoothly.”
Al Jazeera presenter ADRIAN FINIGHAN talks to us about his announcing days and the occasion when he presented the BBC News in the immediate aftermath of a bomb outside BBC Television Centre. And an unpleasant night on BBC Radio 2: “I once got food poisoning while doing the Radio 2 overnight in Birmingham and spent the entire programme throwing up into a bin. Poor old Steve Madden had to come and take over from me an hour early.”
The channel director/transmission controller PATRICK WALKER recalls his days as an announcer on BBC TV and Channel 4. “I was the one who started name-checking the workers at the end of the night at closedown: ‘So from me Patrick Walker and my director Jo Dilks it’s goodnight; bless you for watching’. That kind of close was frowned upon by the bosses, so I had to stop!”
Veteran continuity announcer GLEN ALLEN takes us through his career. He tells us how the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, triggered an urgent review of programmes in the schedule that day: “I got a call from that week’s editor, Rachel, and she and I rushed into UK Gold and frantically began going through every programme that was due to go out on that day.” One programme featured Jasper Carrott “making a comment about speeding cars and ‘Who wants to drive at 100mph anyway…apart from Princess Anne!’ So that had to go.”
Sky Sports presenter CHARLES COLVILE recalls his time as a BBC TV announcer. Charles talks about the scrutiny of the announcer’s words in script review meetings: “You can’t say ‘but now on BBC One’ because that demeans the programme you are about to see. You should say ‘first on BBC One’. It was all so very different from just ad-libbing up to the ‘pips’, which was what I was used to!”
DAVE ADEY remembers his BBC days: “The network directing night shifts were fun. At about 3am, there was a long documentary programme slot on BBC World. We used to…do a pretend bulletin with everyone swapping roles. I would read the news, the director would do the autoscript, the vision mixer would direct…”
BBC announcer and network director COLIN WARD-LEWIS: “Whilst announcing, I trained as a network director. Then Martin Everard persuaded me to leave for the Super Channel in the late-1980s to be an announcer and I sent a letter to Malcolm Walker, head of presentation on Christmas Eve saying I was resigning. However, it was the worst decision I made (leaving the BBC).”
Former BBC network announcer MARTIN EVERARD: “When I went for my board in 1981 for BBC TV presentation editor, the panel was Malcolm Walker (head of presentation), Janet Hoenig (deputy head of presentation) and Bill Cotton (controller BBC One) who fell asleep…”
Former BBC network announcer BARRIE REDFERN: “Fine details such as ‘This is BBC One’ would be analysed and altered, for example, to ‘BBC One’. I believe the marked up script was then reprinted.”
The former children’s TV presenter JOHNNY BALL talks to us about his long career. From Play School to the various Think series. “In my 25 years in television, I am proud to say that I never used autocue.”
The former children’s TV presenter BRIAN CANT. Brian recalled that after his final Play School and Play Away appearances, he received a letter from the BBC informing him that he was too old to continue presenting the programmes.
Former BBC News presenter FRANCES COVERDALE: “When I joined Television News, people I met outside the BBC would say ‘Do you want to be the next Angela Rippon?’ and my answer was always ‘No’. At that time newsreaders had no editorial input – they just read what was put in front of them (and they did it exceptionally well, I might add).”
Actor and former children’s TV presenter BEN THOMAS. Speaking about his second week working on Play School: “I wore a pair of shiny Doc Martin boots and Peter [Play School director] took me aside and asked what I thought I was wearing as I looked like a bovver boy! We came to an agreement that I would only wear the boots in two of the five programmes. Afterwards, I went out and bought five different pairs of coloured t-shirts and a pair of plimsolls for my next appearances.”
Former TWW and BBC Midlands presenter GUY THOMAS. Speaking about his time as presenter of TWW Reports: “It was a roller coaster time, interviewing politicians one night and Hollywood A-listers like Marlene Dietrich the next. And unpredictable as well.”
Former BBC weather presenter NORMAN ELLIS: “TV presentation in those days was done using charts hand-drawn by the forecasters. The 6am Atlantic chart had to be drawn by us in the Kinsgway office and carried rolled up when we travelled by tube to Shepherd’s Bush. Then at 5pm, we rang Kingsway and obtained, in code, a forecast chart for midday the next day, drew that up, and then discussed by telephone the situation with the senior forecaster at Bracknell. A caption chart was agreed which was set up with magnetic characters by the TV people.”
Actor and former children’s TV presenter DEREK GRIFFITHS. Speaking about Play School: “I felt that completing 10 years was enough and that it was time to move on. Now adults – some grey haired – still come up and remember me and quote back what I said and the songs that made a lasting impression on them, which blows me over and I feel humbled.”
Actress and former children’s TV presenter CAROL CHELL: “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.”