Colin was born in Lambeth in 1939. He is a former actor and a former member of the National Youth Theatre. Michael Croft (who founded the NYT in 1956) was an English master at Colin’s old school. Colin was working at the De Lane Lea Studios in 1963 when the BBC gave the go-ahead for BBC Two and a friend, Michael Wood said he should apply.
He went to a studio and made a professional tape, having created a script using the Daily Telegraph. He sent the tape to the BBC. Three days later he got a phone call inviting him for an audition with presentation assistant John Mills. He got the job – a continuity announcer. Asked when he could start, he replied “like yesterday!” He worked in BBC Television Presentation for two decades, first as an announcer (February 1964 – April 1975); he was the duty announcer on the day BBC One began transmitting in colour (17th November 1969). Later, during the 1980s and 1990s, he filled various roles within the Presentation department including director, assistant producer, and editor. He was assistant producer/network director (c. 1992). He even returned briefly to the announcer’s microphone in January 1983 and 1989 as holiday cover. He retired from the BBC in 1994.
His voice was heard on various light entertainment series, including the popular game show The Generation Game (“…and on the conveyor belt tonight we have…”) and Big Break (1991 – 1996). He also voiced or appeared in various other programmes, including: Till Death Us Do Part (1974); Are You Being Served? (1978); Hi-de-Hi (1983); Threads (1984); Terry and June (1985); The Big Sleep (1990); One Foot in the Grave (1990 and 2000); As Time Goes By; Waiting for God (1994). He also gave out the UK jury votes for the 1969, 1970 and 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.
Colin was on the board of a theatre company based on the Costa Del Sol in Spain for eight years and acted and directed in productions before moving back to the UK in 2007.
Paul R. Jackson tracked down Colin in Worcestershire, with the help of John Adams, and spoke to him in September 2017. Paul enquired about Colin’s career: “I was the first voice on BBC Two, when the power cut prevented its grand opening; I introduced Play School. In the late-1960s, Ian Woolf from BFBS, rang the then head of presentation, Rex Moorfoot and asked if I could set up their new TV service in Germany. It was in colour, which America and Canada didn’t even have at that time. After my three-year secondment, I returned to the BBC and it was at the time when they decided to bring back Points of View after a ten-year hiatus, and I was asked to produce the series, which began in the south east region only. It was my decision to have Barry Took as presenter. Bill Cotton wanted the programme to go network; I wrote the first couple of programmes, then Barry took over as he had such good humour in his scripts and was thrilled to bits to write it, which he did on the Thursday before the Friday transmission. I stayed for two to three series (1979 – 1980).”
Paul asked why Colin made a brief return behind the microphone in 1989: “The presentation editor, Margaret Rushton, was desperate, as for some reason she had no announcers available at short notice. She asked could I do it and I said yes. Although I was a little nervous doing the early evening introduction to EastEnders, I then fell back into it and did the closedown with the National Anthem.”
Paul asked how Colin had come to be associated with so many light entertainment shows: “I used to make a lot of contacts in the BBC Club and that’s how John Ammonds, producer of The Morecambe and Wise Show asked me to do the intro for their Christmas show and that led to me working with Kenny Everett. 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). Whilst there, I trained Gaby Roslin as a children’s presenter. She was so young and we clicked straight away. She had the gift of the gab and paid attention when I directed her. I was proud that I had helped her out early in her career.”
Paul ended by asking Colin for any memories of BBC TV announcer colleagues: “Roger Maude is my eldest son’s godfather (now 43) and Andy Cartledge was a marvellous musician/pianist who played cabaret at my wedding.
It’s marvellous what you are doing getting all this information down for posterity.”
Video Clips on the Internet
Here we present a selection of video clips featuring Colin which we found on social media sites or have made available from our own archive. The clips are presented here for additional reference. Inclusion of a video does not constitute an endorsement of the hosting site/channel/user. If you find any broken links below or are aware of an additional clip(s) which you believe may be a useful addition to this profile, please get in touch with us via our Contact page.
A short BBC internal film, taking a behind-the-scenes view of the BBC Presentation dept (c. 1992). Colin is the BBC One network director featured in the opening minutes.
Colin Ward-Lewis returns to the announcer's chair briefly in early 1983.
PICTURED: Colin Ward-Lewis. SUPPLIED BY: Online. COPYRIGHT: BBC.