Mary was bought up in Poltalloch, Argyll and was the granddaughter of Victorian socialite Lillie Langley, mistress of King Edward VII. She was a BBC Radio Home Service/BBC Third Programme announcer in 1942 and 1957 and became one of the famous post-war trio of BBC TV in-vision announcers, appearing from 1947 – 1958.
Mary received no training and became known for her spoonerisms, as she recalled: “By the end of the day I was tired, and when I came to the weather forecast I just read it out without really trying. My biggest fear was ‘drain and rizzle’, which I said more than once.” She also came up with “shattered scowers” and on one occasion, after she had finished reading the weather, she told the viewers: “I’m sorry, but we got the charts in the wrong order; so I’ll now do the whole thing again.”
She presented BBC TV’s Picture Parade (1950) and also appeared on BBC Children’s TV – she was commentator on the Children’s Newsreel in the early 1950s and presented Monday Magazine (1955) and For Deaf Children (1956). Modesty was the watchword in those days, and on an extremely hot day in 1956 she was rebuked by the head of children’s television for removing her bolero top – to reveal a strapless dress – whilst interviewing rover scouts about their camping equipment.
Mary appeared in various TV programmes, including: Life with the Lyons (BBC, 1957); The Goodies (BBC, 1976); she told the story of The Enchanted House (ITV, 1970). She returned to the BBC as an in-vision announcer in November 1986 for TV50 (BBC Two), celebrating the 50th anniversary of BBC Television.
Mary was married to actor and playwright Sir Basil Bartlett (1937 – 1960) and Colin McFadyean (1960 – 2008). She published her autobiography Me in 1956.
Video Clips on the Internet
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Mary Malcolm appears in-vision again in 1960 for TV50.
PICTURED: Mary Malcolm. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: BBC.