Richard was born in Hitchin. He began his professional career in journalism as a reporter for the local newspaper in Hertfordshire. In 1957, he made his first radio broadcast, a talk on Town and Country Magazine, BBC Radio’s weekday programme for listeners in the south east of England, transmitted on the Home Service after the 6pm news. In 1959, he left the Hertfordshire Express to found the North Herts News Agency, supplying local news and features to national daily and evening newspapers, radio and television.
In 1961, Richard made his first TV appearance on BBC’s Town and Around, a weekday magazine programme for viewers in the south east of England, transmitted from Alexandra Palace, which at the time was the headquarters of BBC Television News. He then progressed to become a BBC TV News home reporter (1964 – 1972), spending several periods covering The Troubles in Northern Ireland. He was a reporter on BBC Two’s Newsroom (1968 – 1970) and was a relief newsreader in March 1966 and again from January 1972, and was chosen to co-present the revamped Nine o’Clock News in November 1972. In his autobiography, published in 2015, he states he first read the lunchtime news in summer 1966, standing in at short notice for Richard Baker who had mistakenly thought it was his day off. He also acted as holiday relief presenter on BBC Two’s Newsroom, once TV News had moved to The Spur, TV Centre in September 1969.
On 26th July 1976, newspapers reported that he had started wearing glasses to read the news (two months previous). He remained on the newsreading team, appearing on most bulletins, until 30th July 1988, making him one of the BBC’s longest-serving news presenters. Whitmore was a newsreader for BBC TV’s Breakfast Time (1984 – 1986 and 1988) and once stood in for John Craven on Newsround in the mid-1970s.
He was a newsreader on BBC World in 1992 but left to pursue an acting career to fulfil a long-held ambition to work in the theatre. His first major role was co-starring with the comedian Bernie Winters in a national tour of Underneath the Arches, a musical tribute to Flanagan and Allen. The two later recreated the characters at a Royal Charity Gala Show before Prince Edward at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage. Richard recently returned there to play Captain Hook in the musical version of Peter Pan. He has performed his one-man show Didn’t You Used to Be Richard Whitmore? at numerous theatres and festivals around the country. He has also appeared in films and on television, and his voice has been heard on television and radio commercials ranging from Hamlet cigars to the Mitsubishi Shogun. His latest TV work was as presenter on TV Travel Shop.
Video Clips on the Internet
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Richard Whitmore presents the News and Sport in January 1985.
Richard Whitmore reading a daytime news summary, in July 1988.
PICTURED: Richard Whitmore. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: BBC.