Barrie was born in Rotherham. He started out as a student broadcaster, before moving to BBC Local Radio. He trained as an announcer at BBC Television Centre, working on both BBC One and BBC Two. In 1979, he moved to BBC North in Leeds, as a regional TV announcer and newsreader.
After a reduction in regional presentation in the BBC English regions, Barrie switched channels, moving to Grampian TV in Aberdeen in 1980. There he had much the same role, being one of the line-up of staff announcers, who also read the news. Radio Aire, a new commercial radio station, approached him to join them as both their afternoon show presenter and current affairs producer, thus marking a return to Leeds. His ambition by then though was to work in television production and within a year his agent called him with some bad and good news. The good news was being offered his first job directing in ITV. The bad news was it was in Belfast – at the height of The Troubles. In 1983, he took the job as a rookie director and so began a new career working for various ITV companies on networked promotions, religion, news, and children’s programmes.
Between directing stints, he trained as a journalist, even taking a job on a newspaper to gain extra experience. He did so well he became in demand as a reporter and bulletin editor for various BBC Local Radio stations. As Barrie recalled: “It was quite weird, one day finishing a contract directing and the next rushing around doing live news reports for BBC Radio. The trouble with me is, I find being in broadcasting rather like being a kid in a sweet shop. You want everything.” He has rarely been out of work as a result – even popping up as a presenter on an Austrian national radio station! Once, while working as a news director at Central TV, he stood in for a newsreader. A fellow director – not knowing his background – said he was impressed and suggested he had a go at it for a living!
Barrie later moved into management, setting up and running departments for a variety of new stations across Europe. He also trained producers and presenters from across the world and while out doing such work for a new TV station in Bangladesh was offered a senior job there. The military government at the time though forbid such employment. Indeed, Barrie has quite a few stories to tell about his stint there including how the authorities somehow didn’t quite believe he was there on holiday!
Paul R. Jackson interviewed Barrie in October 2018.
What Were You Doing Before You Joined BBC Radio?
“I worked for one year as a chemistry teacher before joining BBC Radio Humberside in 1972. At school I hated sport and always got out of it. However, I ended up playing both rugby union and amateur league. This led to two years at BBC RH as sports producer/presenter. Years later I found myself putting that to good use as senior producer at Screensport (now Eurosport) working on on-screen promotions.”
During Your Time with BBC TV Presentation in London: Were There Any Female Announcers; Did You Work with David Bennett?
“There weren’t any when I was there, though I believe the department had one or two in the past. At the time it very much a male preserve. Yes, David did work there briefly before I joined. I met him once socially alongside fellow announcers from TC.”
What Are Your Memories of Working in Presentation at Television Centre?
“The famous BBC Club bar was on the same floor and just metres away. So too were the offices of many famous light entertainment producers. Also, at the time, I Claudius was in production. What a sight – seeing the cast in their togas queuing up in the canteen – alongside others such as the late, great Robin Day. For a lad up from the sticks this was all an eye opener. No wonder some called TC a fun factory. The BBC had another side though, often parodied by Monty Python: its strict adherence to administrative procedure – in some ways like the Civil Service. Announcers had to write scripts for whatever they would say during the evening shifts.
“These were prepared in advance in accordance with instructions from editorial staff. Before beginning a shift the announcer and the whole editorial team along with promotions staff would fill an office and listen to the announcer read his script, section by section. 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.”
When You Were Based in Leeds, Did You Appear on Look North?
“Yes, Khalid Aziz and Mike Smartt were there when I was at BBC North. Actually, they were associated with Look North while I worked across both Look North and BBC North presentation. I had previously worked with Mike at BBC Radio Humberside, so you could say our broadcasting careers began together (as far as I know). Very nice chap. I enjoyed my days with the BBC in Leeds. There was a small canteen which served both our regional team and some of the network staff who also occupied offices there. You often found yourself sharing the same table with such people as The Good Old Days producer Barney Colehan or the director of It’s a Knockout for example. It was wonderful and a privilege to be amongst such talented and enthusiastic people. I often used to think ‘And they pay me for this as well’.”
Did You Work with Maggie Palmer at Grampian TV?
“Yes, but I have lost touch with all my former colleagues from Grampian -both on and off-screen. It is a great pity. The main reason is that I have moved home and country so many times. I last spoke to June Imray a very long time ago. As for David Bennett, I believe he only had stints on hospital radio after leaving Grampian and never returned to mainstream broadcasting.”
Did You Enjoy Being On Screen? You Seemed to Move Behind the Camera Quite Quickly at Ulster?
“It might seem like a short period but all-in-all it was over several years as I moved about quite a bit, sometimes switching roles as you will see in my profile write-up. I have also always seen broadcasting as being multi-media, whether presenting on radio, TV or now, on the internet. The same too with multi-skilling. I was doing it a long time before it became mainstream practice. Actually, this really came in useful when I joined London cable station Channel One as head of presentation. I and my team of producers did a lot work ourselves including camerawork – just as the video journalists or VJs at Channel One did. Channel One was actually the first in the UK to introduce this way of working. Yes, now commonplace but we were the pioneers!
“When Channel One closed through lack of viewers – this being cable of the old days when few had it – I moved to Holland. I was creative director across seven pan-European TV channels and in as many languages. Cutting edge stuff. At the same time I became committee member and also chairman of Promax and BDA Europe, a body representing presentation and promotions teams of leading broadcasters. I later worked in corporate video in Amsterdam, producing high-end videos; then took early retirement – in Slovenia.”
How Long Have You Been Based in Germany?
“I believe around eight years. I am now a German citizen. Before that I had four years in Slovenia where I took early retirement and had a small vineyard. It was a very big mistake. I got bitten by a tick and became seriously ill because doctors didn’t diagnose and treat it. After extensive treatment in Germany I decided to live there. Goodbye Slovenia and welcome to a new life in Germany. I thought I had retired but I now run a live monthly chat show on the internet for expats in Germany. It’s a kind of radio show with cameras – or put another way, radio but in colour. Multi-skilling again you see! Do join us at Expat Show.”
Video Clips on the Internet
Here we present a selection of video clips featuring Barrie 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.
PICTURED: Barrie Redfern. SUPPLIED BY: Online. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.
Grampian Studios: http://grampianstudios.co.uk.