‘FIRST’ BBC TV NEWSREADER RICHARD DIES
FORMER BBC newsreader Richard Baker – the first person to introduce a news bulletin on BBC TV – has died at the age of 93.
He died yesterday morning at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, his son James Baker confirmed.
In tributes, he was called “a gentleman” and “THE newsreader for a generation”.
But away from news, he will also be remembered as the voice of children’s TV show Mary, Mungo and Midge, the frontman for a string of classical music broadcasts – and one of the dancing “sailors” who famously supported Morecambe and Wise in their legendary 1970s Nothing Like A Dame dance routine.
BBC Director General Tony Hall said in a statement: “Richard Baker was at the forefront of the creation of the modern news presenter. He was a calm and assured presence who became the face of news for millions.
“Later, he became a great advocate for classical music, presenting many much loved programmes. But more than that, he was quite simply a lovely and charming man. Our sympathies are with his many friends and family.”
Fellow newsreader John Simpson paid tribute to Richard in a tweet.
“Richard Baker, who has just died, was one of the finest newsreaders of modern times: highly intelligent, thoughtful, gentle, yet tough in defence of his principles,” he wrote.
And ITV’s Alistair Stewart added: “A giant. Not a ‘journalist’, but that wasn’t the style in his day. Burnet, Day, Gall et al came along and changed all that. Richard ‘Dickie’ Baker was also a master of the arts, especially music about which he wrote beautifully. A true gentleman.”
Simon McCoy, who presents an afternoon segment on BBC 24, wrote of him: “Remembering Richard Baker – THE newsreader for a generation of us – and a huge influence on me.”
He introduced the first televised news bulletin on the BBC in 1954.
As well as being the voice of Mary, Mungo And Midge in 1969, he provided the narration of Peter And The Wolf.
In addition, Richard presented the Last Night of the Proms and made regular appearances on the panel show Face The Music. He also made three guest appearances on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
He survived World War II, despite working in one of the most dangerous areas of the conflict – as a minesweeper with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in Russia.
After a brief stint as a teacher, he wrote to the BBC asking for a job as an actor, but instead was recruited to present on the Third Programme on radio.
And four years after starting at the corporation, he was nominated to introduce the first BBC news bulletin – although it was still a while before his face would be shown on screen.
“It was feared we might sully the stream of truth with inappropriate facial expressions,” he previously revealed.
Richard Baker has died at the age of 93