Huw Thomas, Newscaster 

21 November 2017 tbs.pm/14222

From the TVTimes Midlands edition for 7-13 April 1957

One day last August, Huw Thomas read the following advertisement in The Times:

Independent Television News will shortly appoint a third newscaster to help prepare and broadcast news bulletins. He should be under 35, with good appearance and good speaking voice, a responsible but lively understanding of news, a cool head in emergencies a relish for work at high pressure, and a sense of humour.

“I might have a stab at that,” he said casually to Freddie, with whom he shares his bachelor flat in Highgate.

“At least you’ve got one qualification,” said Freddie. “You’re under 35 . . . Stick to crime, old boy. At least it’s a steady living.”

But many elements in the life of a barrister working for the Director of Public Prosecutions went against Huw’s grain. Born 30 years ago into the family of a village grocer in South Wales, he had been raised in a close-knit God-fearing community whose happiest evenings were spent hymn-singing round a piano and whose basic reading matter was the Bible.

With this background it wouldn’t have been surprising if Huw had gone into the Church. He thought about it seriously. But after three years in the RAF, he went to Cambridge to read Law.

When he was 23, another secular force entered his orbit — politics.

Home on holiday, he was shanghaied into addressing a local Liberal meeting, on the strength of being Secretary to the Cambridge Liberal Society. He so fired his audience that one member of it leapt to his feet and nominated him as the local candidate.

On his tutor’s advice, he took a term off. The constituency was a Labour stronghold, but Huw threw himself wholeheartedly into the uneven struggle, studying hard to keep one jump ahead of questioners at his meetings. He grasped nearly 8,000 votes from James Griffiths, retained his deposit, and returned to Cambridge.

In 1950 he was called to the Bar.

A new barrister may have to wait months for his first brief. When Huw attended his first Sessions, the day after he qualified, he was asked by a senior: “Why haven’t you got your wig and gown on?”

“What’s the point?” asked Huw. “No one will call on me.”

But his senior insisted, as a result of which Huw was late for the Sessions. As he hurriedly took his place in the line of barristers waiting to give legal aid to the day’s defendants, a Teddy Boy, charged with razor-slashing, pointed at him and said : “I’ll ‘ave that one.”

“Who, me?” croaked Huw.

“Yus, you,” replied the Teddy Boy.

After touring the courts of Wales as Marshal to Mr. Justice Ormerod, Huw went into practice near his home. But his social roots were by now deeply embedded in London.

At turning points in his life, Huw’s decisions have often been governed by his desire to meet new people. So, about a year ago, he joined the Department of Public Prosecutions.

He met many people, all right, but they were mainly criminals and policemen. Besides, he was beginning to doubt whether, after all, Law was his metier. He was looking round for something new and exciting when he saw ITN’s advertisement.

Ignoring Freddie’s advice, he applied, and from more than 200 applicants was chosen to become ITN’s third newscaster.

This new phase in Huw’s life hasn’t changed the pattern of it as much as one would expect. He still plays rugger for Rosslyn Park, takes singing lessons, loves dancing and parties and making after-dinner speeches, and spends evenings reading Shakespeare in his flat. (“No palace, but then we lack the feminine touch.”)

And though the sordidness of the cases he dealt with in the Public Prosecutor’s office is behind him, the tragedies he saw are proving hard to forget.

He is determined that as soon as he settles into his new job. he will devote much of his free time to social work related to criminals and their dependants.

Huw has been compared with both the other permanent newscasters. His background is similar to that of Robin Day; his dark good looks have much in common with those of Ludovic Kennedy. But it was clear from the moment he wished viewers a “Happy Christmas” in his native Welsh that his approach to his job is entirely individual.

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1 response to this article

Paul Mason 22 November 2017 at 12:37 am

Huw Thomas lifespan was 1927-2009.

We still have another Welsh Huw reading news, namely Huw Edwards.

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