Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to a very old 'black and white tv' broadcaster called Cliff Michelmore

Cliff is 94 years old today and I remember watching him on our little tv in black and white when I was a boy living in South London in the 1960's, when he, already in his forties, fronted the BBC 'Tonight' programme. What I'd forgotten was that he also hosted the tv coverage of the Apollo Moon Landings and the tragic South Wales Aberfan Disaster, the 1966 and 1971 General Elections and the investiture of Charles, as Prince of Wales in 1969.

What I and possibly you didn't know about Cliff was that he :

* was born in Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1919 and attended the High School there and then left the island to study at Loughborough College and Leicester College of Technology and Art.

* joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War andpresente became a Squadron Leader and began broadcasting on British Forces Network.

* after the War worked on radio and tv as a freelance sports commentator, then as a news reporter and as a producer of children's programmes, including 'All Your Own'.

* in 1950, married the late Jean Metcalf, a BBC announcer whom he met when she presented 'Two-Way Family Favourites' in London while he was presenting the Hamburg link in the programme for the British Forces Broadcasting Service.

* presented the BBC TV programme 'Highlight', a current affairs show with a reputation for uncompromising interviews and in 1957 became anchorman for BBC TVs new topical weekday magazine show, 'Tonight' which ran for eight years and attracted 8 million viewers at its peak and was named BAFTA Television Personality of the Year in 1958.

* interviewed the 17 year old David Bowie in 1964 about 'long hair' in young men :

* when Tonight finished in 1965, hosted a BBC One series called '24 Hours' until 1968 and the 1966 General Election :

* In 1967 he presented 'Our World', a worldwide tv broadcast which was the first to use time satellite communication extensively in an attempt to 'connect the whole world by television' and in one pogramme featured a performance by The Beatles of their song ' All You Need Is Love'.

* after leaving full-time tv work, became head of EMI's new video division and was a regular presenter on BBC One's 'Holiday' programme from 1969 to 1986 and returned to the BBC at the age of 87 in 2007 to introduce a programme on the BBC Parliament channel, recalling the 1967 devaluation of the pound.

My "Goodbye" to Cy Grant who sang calypsos on the 'Tonight' programme :
Thursday, 18 February 2010

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