28 Feb 2007 2 comments. tbs.pm/3513
Bill Steel was one of the best known and fondly remembered announcers at Tyne Tees, starting in the news department before moving to continuity full time in the seventies. He became Chief Announcer in 1988.
Bill was well known for his wonderful links between programs and has always had many fans and admirers. It may interest and surprise you to know that Bill ad-libbed all his announcements.
Initially a trainee accountant with the General Electric Company, Bill became an Assistant Transmission Controller in the early 1960s and later became a Transmission Controller at the age of 23.
His vocal abilities led him to do voice overs for the Tyne Tees sales department (over 10,000 commercials) and in 1965 hosted the Tyne Tees music programme, ‘Songs Of The Swinging Sixties’, although out of vision.
In 1967 Bill auditioned for a job as a news-reader at ABC in Manchester, which he successfully got. Later that year, he moved to ABC in Birmingham, and became their Chief Announcer for ABC Midlands for their last year on air.
When ABC’s Midlands and North franchises ended, Bill followed the team to London to work on Thames. During this time he continued doing voice overs for commercials, and doing his job as Transmission Controller.
Bill’s hard work continued, including a few tentative (out of vision) shifts in the continuity department, and he was then offered the job of weekend breakfast presenter on the new Newcastle based radio station, Metro Radio, which he added to his list of jobs.
Four weeks after joining Metro and Bill was doing six breakfast shows a week, and Bill decided to quit his job in transmission. In 1971 he was offered the job of main presenter on news programme Today at Sox, quitting Thames and his voice over work around the same time. When Today at Six was replaced by Northern Life, Bill moved over to the new programme. However news was not where Bill was destined to stay.
Bill was then offered the chance to move to continuity as part of an attempt to beef up the on air presentation, moving over in 1980 – his decision helped by the fact it would provide a substantial pay-rise. His place in history as one of the few news-presenters to become announcer is assured – most go the other way round!
In 1988 Bill became Chief Announcer in 1988 when Neville Wanless retired.
Bill was obviously a big fan of in-vision announcements as, before the Yorkshire takeover, he got the Tyne Tees management to put a clause in his contract allowing him to broadcast in-vision announcements as long as he worked at the station. This clause is probably the sole reason that in-vision announcements lasted so long at Tyne Tees.
After scaling back his previous job commitments, Bill once again started looking for extra jobs and had been able to develop a career in the theatre. His big break came when he was asked to take over from Ned Sherrin in the play ‘Side by Side by Sondheim’ on a nationwide tour. Later he appeared as Professor Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’, the lead role of Herbie in ‘Gypsy’ and in ‘The Dancing Years’.
From Continuity to Acting.
Bill left Tyne Tees in July 1996, just before the continuity department was moved to Leeds. He took the decision to work on his acting career instead, and won a part in the TV adaptation of Catherine Cookson’s ‘The Rag Nymph’.
In January 1997 Bill was offered a part in Coronation Street as Bernard McKenna, which he played between 31 March and 9 November, 1997.
As if this wasn’t enough, Bill started working on Century FM as the overnight presenter as well as presenting shows on Weekend afternoons. He later moved to the news department to help beef up their output, as well as presenting overnights at weekends. He continues to act and has appeared in the short films ‘A Kings Ransom’ and ‘Alternative Therapy’.
Publicity Pictures of Bill Steel
Over the years, Tyne Tees issued a range of Bill Steel publicity photo postcards, some of which are below thanks to the extensive collection of Matthew Gulliver.
A batch of pictures from over the years. The blue ink on black and white photo really does give a classy effect too…
There’s something instantly noticable in this picture in comparison to the rest shown here. Bill’s parting has moved to the other side!
From the early 1980s.
The logos on these two date the pictures relatively well. On the left, a photo of Bill from around the Flowing Rivers ident period – 1989/1990, and on the right, one from some point between 1992 and 1996.
And finally, not a Tyne Tees picture, but one instead from Metro Radio where Bill was presenter of the breakfast show for several years.