Broadcasters Galore

During the Silver Jubilee of the Queen, in 1977, Roger accompanied Robert Hudson as he commentated on Trooping the Colour (left),the Service of Thanksgiving in St Paul's cathedral, and the Garter Ceremony at Windsor castle. Bob, who became Head of BBC Outside Broadcasts, described numerous royal and sporting events, and invented the Test Match Special programmes. Roger photographed him discussing details of the royal ceremonies with officials and took pictures of the engineers and production staff at work, as well as the television commentator Tom Fleming.

At the same time he was photographing Robert Hudson at work Roger recorded an hour-long documentary showing how his Silver Jubilee programmes got on the air. He did something similar at the Boat Race. The pictures and tapes are valuable records because equipment and working methods have changed and no-one else was recording this aspect of broadcasting.    

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Roger was fortunate to photograph two pioneer TV reporters - Fyfe Robertson and the globetrotting Alan Whicker (left). And the world's first television announcer Leslie Mitchell, who opened BBC TV in 1936, posed in his book-lined study.

'When I started broadcasting many pioneers were still around,' Roger recalls. 'I remember photographing some of the earliest TV newsreaders - Richard Baker, Kenneth Kendall and Michael Aspell. ITN's newscaster Reginald Bosanquet was a sad figure. He drank heavily and this was apparent to viewers when he presented the News at Ten. Journalists nicknamed him Reginald Beaujolais and Reginald Boozenquet. Eventually, he retired. One evening he came along to BBC Radio London to read the news in aid of a charity programme. Reggie was sober when I photographed him early on and read his script perfectly during a rehearsal. But afterwards he went to the manager's office and drank nearly a whole bottle of Scotch. Reggie then read Radio London's 10 o'clock news. It was a shambles. He was never invited back.

'The early days of radio and TV were the most exciting. Every broadcast was an adventure. The BBC was like an exclusive club. Programmes attracted huge audiences and broadcasters were like gods. Vast crowds assembled to watch them presenting outside broadcasts, such as the 

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. I went along with my cameras. Besides photographing John Snagge and production team on the radio launch I photographed one of the men who invented TV sport - David Coleman (left) - presenting the Saturday sports programme Grandstand. Frank Bough was a regular. And Harry Carpenter, best known for boxing commentaries, was there to interview the crews and provide colour. If you were lucky you might spot the BBC's senior commentator Peter Jones, who presented radio's Sport on 2 and Sports Report, and the young Jim Rosenthal who went on to make a name for himself in television. Women broadcasters were rare in those days, but Judith Chalmers made her mark and was pursued by autograph hunters.'

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Besides photographing national figures Roger photographed what was going on in BBC Radio London. 'Outsiders often think everything the BBC does is photographed in detail,' says Roger. 'But the truth is different. Broadcasters and producers spend their time making programmes and seldom have their pictures taken. In as far as they exist publicity shots are the norm, but photos showing broadcasters live on air, or at work behind the scenes, are rare. I took thousands of pictures at Radio London. The BBC Archives tell me they're one of the most comprehensive sets of pictures ever taken of a radio department since the BBC was founded in 1922. So I've given them copies and people in the BBC are now using them. Some are portraits, but most are journalistic shots - reportage - and show people at the start of their careers. Many have done well later in life. One was the disc jockey Dave Pearce (left). I met him when he was a studio assistant at BBC Radio London. He used to read cuttings in my newspaper review Hold the Front Page, as well as voicing trails, answering the phones and driving other programmes. Initially, Dave was shy in front of a camera. But he soon gained confidence and before long was presenting his own programmes, including Rock Anthems on national radio.'

No-one ever accused dj Tony Blackburn of shyness. Tony was an iconic figure in the pop world when he came to BBC Radio London in the 1980s. Roger occasionally broadcast on his shows at London's Ideal Home Exhibition and Prince Andrew's wedding. 'Tony was another pioneer,' says Roger. 'After starting his career in 1960s pirate radio he moved to the BBC where he opened the national pop station Radio One. This changed the BBC and British broadcasting for ever. Tony was easy to photograph. Flawlessly groomed he posed effortlessly so you could take a large number of portraits in five minutes. I photographed Tony many times and never had a failure. In addition to portraits I photographed him at work - selecting records, talking to his producer and live on air in the studio. Also enjoying lunch in the BBC canteen and being mobbed by fans - reportage.'