Gordon Roddick 

1 December 2005 tbs.pm/2295


September 22nd 1955 – a day I remember well. I was in the BBC’s Glasgow studios reading the book review on Children’s Hour at 5pm and later that evening, ITV was launched in the London area. How envious I was of those living in south east England being able to watch programmes like Sunday Night at the London Palladium! Here, in central Scotland, we had to wait almost two years for STV to go on-air. The company converted the Theatre Royal in Glasgow into a television centre and the station started transmitting on August 31st 1957.

Several months before this, I applied for the job of continuity announcer and I was duly auditioned. However, I wasn’t chosen at that time and the station went on air with Jack Webster (of Canadian radio fame) and Jimmy Nairn (later to be a member of The One O’Clock Gang– a five days a week lunchtime variety show) on the announcing team.

Two months later I had a phone call from Jack Webster asking if I would still like to become an announcer. I jumped at the chance and was asked to come and sit in on a late shift with him. After two hours he decided that I could “fly solo” and he left me in the capable hands of the transmission controller – talk about being thrown in at the deep end! At that time the announcers appeared in vision and most programmes were transmitted live – it was quite usual for a play to end a minute or more early and the announcer had to fill with very little warning.

On Sunday evenings the station closed down from 5.30 till 7 o’clock (everyone in transmission control retired to a little café round the corner) and then I had to change into a dinner jacket for the evening vision spots. This entailed quite a long walk along the dark deserted corridors of the Theatre Royal to the announcers’ dressing room – a journey I didn’t particularly enjoy as there were reports of the sound of a sewing machine coming from one of the rooms I had to pass! Apparently this was where a seamstress had worked in the early days of the theatre.

When we were on the early shift, we read the lunchtime news from Studio B at 1.40 immediately after the The One O’Clock Gang finished in Studio A (the main auditorium of the Theatre Royal). On one occasion there was a technical problem in Studio B and the floor manager asked the studio audience if they would mind staying in their seats to watch the news being read in Studio A. It was a strange experience for me to read the news on stage in front of a live audience while trying to look into the lens of the camera situated at the back of the stalls – I was used to the camera being about 4 feet away from me. Of course those were the days before Autocue – it would have been impossible to read it from that distance!

An important part of the announcer’s job was to read 10 second voice-over commercial scripts live (perhaps three or four in the one break). Every evening at about 5 o’clock there was a commercial scheduled for Farley’s baby food – the script consisted of the three words “Time for Farley’s” with the instruction to read it as if it was a mother calling to her young child. It caused quite a bit of amusement among the staff as I tried to follow the instruction but one of my colleagues (who shall remain nameless) insisted on speaking the three words in a gruff monotone.

For the next six months I thoroughly enjoyed my announcing and news reading duties – at that time I think I was the youngest television announcer in the UK – but the Programme Controller thought I was “too young to be the voice of Scotland” and I had to leave. This was a great disappointment to a 20 year old but I kept in touch with the announcing team (Michael O’Halloran, Elaine Wells, Raymond Boyd and Bill Simpson -later to become “Dr Finlay”) and I was a regular member of the The One O’Clock Gang studio audience.

Three years later I was asked if I would like to audition again and I attended along with another young man. He was successful but I was taken on as a relief announcer to cover for holidays. The other man was Douglas Cameron – after a while he joined the BBC in London and went on to have a long career with LBC. After his departure, I was offered a full time contract (by then Francis Essex had taken over as Programme Controller).

For the next year or so, STV had two announcers on duty every evening – one in vision making three or four appearances between 6.30 and closedown, and the other voice-over covering trailers and commercial slides. I was the in vision host on Saturdays and Sundays and the voice-over announcer on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The set in the continuity studio was changed every two weeks and a duplicate set was erected in the news studio from where the main vision spot of the evening was transmitted at 6.30 immediately after the news magazine programme. This gave the announcer more scope to move around the set instead of being cooped up in the small continuity studio.

The other announcers at that time were Alec Monteath (Dougal in High Road) and Pat Trevor. After a while, the company decided to revert back to the more usual system of having one announcer on duty in the evenings. Frequently Sky News used the continuity studio to interview guests before they had their own facilities in Glasgow. This meant our announcer had to vacate the studio for 10 or 15 minutes (at a convenient time in our schedule) while Sky recorded the interview “down the line”. This could have caused problems if there had been a break in STV’s transmission – our announcer would have had to go back in to make an apology – but as far as I can remember, it never happened. Later when STV’s local news output increased, the continuity studio was used several times a day for 5-minute news reports (directed from transmission control) so it became normal practice for the announcer to vacate the studio. Although continuity in vision remained for a few years, like most of the other ITV companies STV finally removed the camera from the presentation studio.

After being in the announcer’s chair for 10 years (on an annual contract) I was given the opportunity of becoming a transmission controller – a position I held until 1992.

In the early days the announcers would open the station at 9.25 in the morning with a name check and close down at around midnight (usually in vision) again with a name check so they became quite well-known personalities. Now with 24 hour a day TV the announcer’s job seems to be mostly giving stations idents and voicing trailers so to the viewer: they are really just anonymous voices. Although most of the ITV stations have now centralised their presentation, STV still has its own team of announcers but I often wonder how long that situation will last.

You Say

6 responses to this article

Gordon Scott 28 August 2014 at 12:29 pm

A very interesting read! I remember Michael O’Halloran and the One o’clock Gang very well. In fact, I was once in the audience with my auntie. I was probably only six years old at the time! Great memories, thanks again Gordon.

Grace McCarthy 26 November 2014 at 10:50 pm

Hello I worked at STV in the late 70’s in the press office with Pat Trevor. I cannot find out what happened to him and just wondered if you knew. I imagine he may have passed away by now.

Gordon Roddick 22 July 2015 at 2:42 pm

Hi Grace. I have not been in touch with Pat Trevor for over a year but I hear he is now in a care home.

Des McGuire 26 August 2015 at 4:35 pm


Pat Trevor died on Wednesday August 19 2015 at Westerton Care Home, Bearsden, Glasgow, Funeral 27 August ’15, Linn Crematorium 3pm.

[Editor’s note: Transdiffusion has not been able to verify the above — RJG]

Grace McCarthy 6 November 2016 at 4:10 pm

Ach, I’ve just seen this. Gosh, how unfortunate. He must have been a good age.

Sandy Hogarth 27 March 2017 at 2:37 am

How well I remember Michael O’Halloran, with his marvelous ‘actor laddie’ voice and impeccable diction. He was, at the time, the chief announcer. He was a very tall guy and always wore a ‘button hole’. His duties included a bit of acting and I recall him playing comedy parts in a long forgotten STV variety show called The Jack Radcliffe-Alec Finlay Show. Michael was also busy as an actor playing parts on both radio and tv over at the BBC.

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