Colin was a continuity announcer for ABC Television, TWW (Television Wales and the West) in 1958, and one of the first announcers and newsreaders on Anglia Television from its launch in 1959. During his time at the Norwich-based station, Colin also interviewed for news programmes and was a quizmaster. After leaving Anglia in 1964, Colin worked as an announcer/newsreader for the overseas service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and later that year moved to Tyne Tees TV in Newcastle as a continuity announcer and newscaster. As a freelance newsreader, announcer, presenter and quizmaster between 1967 and 1975, Colin worked for several ITV stations, including Westward Television, Grampian and Border. He also worked for the BBC in Bristol, Southampton and London.
In 1975, Colin returned to radio (he had started his career as a disc jockey with radio stations in Africa), launching the new commercial Plymouth Sound station, where he presented The Sunrise Sound breakfast show for 18 months. In 1979, Colin moved to Nottingham’s Radio Trent to present A Little Night Music each evening and Colin’s Corner on Sunday afternoons. Between 1989 and 1996, Colin produced and presented The Golden Years on BBC Radio Nottingham, a request programme featuring the music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Colin has also freelanced as an actor, voiceover, narrator and speaker. His acting roles included parts in Byker Grove, Coronation Street, Boon, Emmerdale Farm, Peak Practice, and The Tommy Cooper Show.
In 2000, Colin starred as Chesney Allen in the theatre production of The Flanagan and Allen Story. He now lives in Nottingham with his wife, Judith, a former transmission logger for Westward TV, where the couple met.
Speaking to Showreel in the early 2000s, Colin recalls those innocent days when TV was fun, and television presentation was designed to befriend viewers rather than hard sell to them.
“In October 1959, Anglia Television was launched. So many years ago, but so vivid in my memory. Those were the days when television was viewer-friendly, with each television company having its own personality and individual announcers. The announcers became friends of the family, popping up between programmes with a warm smile and lots of information about the coming entertainment. Please note the use of the word “entertainment”. In those innocent days, television was indeed entertainment, from Sunday Night at the London Palladium to Rawhide, Wagon Train, The Fugitive, The Avengers, Armchair Theatre, Double Your Money and Take Your Pick. Nudity, violence and bad language had yet to become a part of the daily output.”
A ‘Topsie-Turvy’ Approach
“As I write these few words some silly memories come flooding back. On one occasion, Aubrey Buxton, a director of Anglia Television, Barclays Bank, and also a friend of HRH Prince Philip, walked into master control at Anglia House in Norwich to enquire after the health of the evening shift. We told him we were all fine and asked after his health. Mr Buxton told us he was rather rough as he had ‘hung one on’ with the chairman, Lord Townsend, the previous night. However, he had an excellent remedy for such occasions which he was happy to pass on to us that evening. ‘The best cure for too much drink is to take a bottle of bubbly from the fridge and go for a row on the lake. It never fails to clear the head!’ Of course, I would never think of doing anything else! Incidentally, if Mr Buxton should ever read these words, may I remind him that he still owes me a cigar.
“It’s impossible to think of Anglia without remembering the great invention of Mr Tom Marshall – TOPsIE (Tape Operating Precision Indicating Equipment). The idea of TOPsIE was to reduce the number of people required to work in master control, as the machine would literally run the station. Like many a great idea, it seemed fine until actually put into practice. Perhaps if every programme ran exactly to the second, then maybe it might have worked in a rough manner. Unfortunately, this was not the case. On one occasion, a variety show finished early with the result that for several minutes the viewer watched events taking place backstage as the ATV end caption board had been removed. Mr Marshall is reported to have said that the singer should have sung slower to fill in the time. On one occasion, a technician nearly had a finger removed when TOPsIE suddenly started a telecine machine. On another, the machine decided to insert the end commercial break for Coronation Street in the middle of part two of the programme.”
Parish Pump Agenda
“In those days, local news was very parochial. On one occasion I was sent to cover the hot story in a small village that concerned the positioning of a street light. There is one news bulletin that I will never forget. On that occasion the bulletin was handed to me just one minute before the start of the programme. The second story read as follows: ‘Last night, 89-year-old Mrs Ganary died when her cottage was burnt to the ground. Mrs Ganary’s canary also died in the fire.’ Try reading that out loud!
“They were happy times and I really think we had much more fun than is had in these sterile, pre-recorded and politically correct days.”
Video Clips on the Internet
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