‘FIRST’ BBC TV NEWS­READER RICHARD DIES

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - DAVID OWENS Re­porter [email protected]­line.co.uk

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

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