TV announcer’s career about to take a new turn 

20 January 2021 tbs.pm/71816

 

 

Harrow Observer masthead

From the Harrow Observer for 19 September 1975

WE WILL all be seeing the face of North Wembley’s own television announcer, Mr. Alec Taylor a good deal less regularly on our screens at the weekends from now on.

He has just negotiated a new contract with London Weekend Television which means that he now works for them only half as much, appearing as the station’s duty announcer two weekends in every four.

The change also means that this weekend Mr. Taylor, who lives in Blockley Road, North Wembley, will not be working for the first time in seven years, leaving aside holidays, since the launch of London Weekend Television in July 1968.

 

Alec Taylor on the phone

London Weekend TV announcer Alec Taylor rings the Met. Office for the weather forecast which he will add to the news

 

Survivor

“The change will make a great deal of difference to my social life,” he said. “My wife and I have not been able to have friends around for dinner and so on for years — I’ve always been so tied up.”

Along with World of Sport’s Dickie Davies, and soccer’s Brian Moore, 34-year-old Mr. Taylor, an Irishman from County Cork, is the only face at London Weekend to have survived since the start of the company’s operations.

Mr. Taylor’s new contract is designed to enable him to pursue his freelance broadcasting career.

“There are a lot of viewers who think that I sit at home all week living off a fat pay roll from my weekend work,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr. Taylor recently completed presenting the second of two series of educational programmes for youngsters with Yorkshire Television, and he has also worked on his own series of late-night talk shows with Southern Television in Dover interviewing such people as Henry Cooper, and journalist and newscaster Leonard Parkin.

German

Alec Taylor presenting

On camera, Alec Taylor runs through the evening’s programmes

In addition he broadcasts on German radio — he speaks the language thanks to some coaching from hiss Austrian wife Reinhild — and is the compere of a regular music show from Cologne bringing the latest music and news of British groups to short-wave listeners around Europe.

“I want to present more programmes on British television, probably adult education programmes, and get more involved in independent local radio.

“I can get extremely busy during the weak, and to have to go on and work one weekend on early shifts with London Weekend and the next weekend late can be a bit hectic.

“I hope that if I cut down a small bit on the announcing work, I will be able to do more of a variety of television work.”

Mr. Taylor has two daughters, Karen, aged nine, and Julie, eight. He spent three years working for the Voice of Germany radio station in Cologne before joining London Weekend. Before that he worked at a market researcher and a teacher, though was first a publicity assistant for Oxfam after leaving university in Dublin.

The job at London Weekend means that he is one of those responsible for the smooth linking of programmes and commercials.

It may mean a burst of stardom for 13 seconds — a long time to talk to millions of viewers on your own and off the cuff — or even longer if things go badly.

“I once had to talk for four minutes when communications between my studio end the control room outside broke down. It seemed like eternity.”

 

Alec Taylor on-screen

 

A bank of television monitors line either side of the remote-controlled camera which Mr. Taylor looks into. From these he can line up his next appearance and check his timing by a clock under the camera lens.

“You have got to be careful about your appearance. Unless you have got a marvelous collar, just the simplest movements puts your tie askance and you get letters from viewers calling you scruffy.

“Brown or beige shirts and jackets tend to blend in with the brown wood panel behind you and viewers may only see your face.”

During the times in between his appearances while “Upstairs Downstairs”, or the Sunday night film are on, be sits with his feet up enjoying the programme like the people at home, though he has to be ready to jump into his seat quickly to cover any break in transmission.

 

 

“When that happens I dash into the studio and leap over the desk into the chair. I’ve something of a reputation for being able to do that the quickest.”

Mr. Taylor thinks that the rest of 1975 and 1976 are going to be busy times for him and he it hoping to do a much more varied assortment of television work.

Mainly, he wants to be in a television studio with somebody else for a change.

“You can get a bit lonely sitting in a studio all by yourself talking into a remote-controlled camera.”

The following section is commentary from Transdiffusion's expert writers

Russ J Graham writes: It’s always fun to find out what announcers do when the programmes are running properly – which is, of course, well over 99% of the time.

Alec Taylor puts his feet up watching LWT’s output – although, it seems, not remaining behind the announcer’s desk, if his need to run in to the studio from somewhere else and vault into the chair is anything to go by.

There’s an interesting nugget in the revelation that Taylor, Dickie Davies and Brian Moore are the only on-air people to have survived LWT’s first few shaky years. The rest seem to have followed the various layers of London Weekend management that found themselves fired or felt the need to resign as the company crumbled under Michael Peacock and then, briefly, Rupert Murdoch.

You Say

1 response to this article

Clement Lafontaine 22 January 2021 at 7:24 am

Another newspaper article written by somebody who fails to research his story and check the basic facts.

There was no “Voice of Germany”. A web search on Alec Taylor finds that he was Irish being born in Dublin and

“Nachrichtensprecher der “Deutschen Welle” in Köln, Moderator bei “London Weekend TV”, Unternehmer”

Deutsche Welle which was responsible for broadcasting “inter-continental” (ie the target audience was not Europe) used high frequency (short wave) transmitters to target audiences in Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America.

External broadcasts from Germany to Europe were the responsibility of Deutschlandfunk which transmitter to Europe on 1269 kHz AM (medium wave) from Ehndorf, Schleswig-Holstein.

It was possible depending on the frequency, season, and time of day of the transmission to receive the English programs of DW in parts of Europe, including Great Britain, but obviously not as reliably or at the more convenient time of the transmissions of Deutschlandfunk whose reception only required a simple AM portable radio.

So the statement in the article “short-wave listeners around Europe” is factually wrong, since the intended audience for the programs of Deutsche Welle were everywhere but Europe.

Since German reunification, Deutschandfunk became a purely national domestic network, and all responsibility for external broadcasting was passed to Deutsche Welle which moved to Bonn, along with the dismantling of its eastern (DDR) counterpart, Radio Berlin International.

In the years since. Deutsche Welle ran down its English language radio transmissions and moved them online as a streaming service and then podcast service.

All production of English language radio programs ended in 2016. Its English language presence is maintained in Europe with DW TV (English, High Definition) transmitted from Astra 1M at 19.2° East and Hotbird 13 at 13.0° East.

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