Patrick was born in London in June 1967. His broadcasting career began in hospital/local radio. He then moved to television, working as a network continuity announcer on BBC One and BBC Two (August 1994 – November 1998). He moved to Channel 4 in January 1999, where he was a network director and continuity announcer. He was with Channel 4 until 2013. He was a transmission controller at Encompass Digital Media (May 2011 – July 2011) for the launch of Channel 5 at that facility. He also worked as a transmission controller at Sky (February 2011 – May 2012) and Turner Broadcasting (June 2012 – October 2012). He was a Sky 3D Navigation announcer (May 2013 – September 2014).
He has freelanced with various companies since 2008: Ericsson/Red Bee (playout director, November 2008 – present); Encompass Digital Media (transmission controller, October 2014 – 2015); Viacom (transmission controller, March 2011 – 2015).
In August and November 2017, Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Patrick and asked how he got started in broadcasting: “I like you, was fascinated by the voices on the telly, and as a kid was ‘sadly’ fascinated by the on-camera Thames TV announcers years before, and I said to myself at the age of about seven, that’s exactly what I want to do in life – it was all I ever wanted to do. I used to drive my brother and anyone else watching TV at home with them bonkers by reading everything out on the telly – all the astoned names on the news and all the end credits. I learnt to read quick and get thumped with every ‘in sitting room’ announcement.
“I started like most on hospital radio (Crawley) and worked on local stations, Radio Mercury and Southern Sound FM, as a very bad presenter but learning and getting better with every howling mistake. I then was almost good enough to take my chances in London at Spectrum International Radio (amazing experience) and Jazz FM. I applied to Channel 4 and answered an ad in The Guardian for a training vacancy for a continuity announcer for the BBC, which I kind of feel I was born to do. So you can imagine how happy I was when I became a BBC TV announcer, without being thumped! I’m not sure of any Afro-Caribbean announcer before me – it’s quite probable I was the first permanent full-time black announcer. I joined Channel 4 after a short break from the Beeb and announced there for a couple of years before network directing on Channel 4. I also announced on Sky 3D which has now finished.”
Paul asked Patrick about memories from his BBC announcing days: “I can’t recall much excitement from the early days. I was given a few tips from the old boys who were all very brilliant at bringing me on board and training this new guy as I was. Obviously I was very different from them with different ideas and I sounded a little bit different. They were all really positive and it felt great being part of this hallowed team. The only tips I can remember weren’t particularly useful. Never write your script in green: thanks to Reg Sanders for that, apparently it’s bad luck. Andy Taylor taught me how to use gags in a continuity script and a little comic timing, which I probably ended up over-using. For example, when writing your script (BBC One late or peak shift) try and write something witty towards the end of the script, normally the late movie. That way, apparently, according to Andy Taylor, they’ll hopefully forget all the rubbish before and remember at least one witty link from the 4.30pm meeting. The read-through was a bit tiresome and Andy would say ‘Pat, leave ’em laughing.’ He was a very cool guy!”
Paul went on to ask how teams were assigned to the channels: “It was all fairly straightforward: basically, if you sounded a bit young, hip and different or you had a spring in your step, then you went towards BBC Two, otherwise traditional-sounding voices were heard after 6pm to closedown on BBC One. 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 its goodnight; bless you for watching’. That kind of close was frowned upon by the bosses, so I had to stop!
“I’ve lost touch with Mark Chapman – we were really good mates, as, compared to the others, we were a similar age, so we used to hang out a bit away from work but lost touch once he and I moved on. And I’m not in touch with the other names apart from seeing Isla Paton from time-to-time. I’ve finished for now working on the Channel 4 account where I worked with her a lot. I sadly did my last announcements on Sky 3D about 3 – 4 years ago. What a way to go!”
Video Clips on the Internet
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Patrick closes down BBC One for the night in November 1997.
PICTURED: Patrick Walker. SUPPLIED BY: Online. COPYRIGHT: Patrick Walker.