Monday, December 12, 2022

Victor Lewis-Smith, BBC Radio York and Stanley Unwin

The death of the broadcaster Victor Lewis-Smith was announced today and John Jefferson, the first manager of BBC Radio York, shared his memories of him with the city's commercial station York Mix:

"When we were setting up Radio York we were trying to find people who weren’t little grey men.

"Victor had just left the university music department with a trail of interesting stories behind him – larger than life stories. He walked into our lives and we took him on.

"Wisely or unwisely, we gave him a Sunday morning show called News Buff.

"And we were absolutely amazed by the sorts of creativity he brought to that – he had a very different way of using radio to amuse people.

"I sense that, if it was today’s BBC, both Victor and probably myself would have had the sack a long time ago.

"But it’s nearly 40 years ago, and we were able to give people a bit of free rein to try and create something that was different and Victor was very, very different – and probably about the most talented person I’ve ever actually worked with."

My memory of those years is that Lewis-Smith was regularly sacked and then reinstated, but it's all a long time ago.

Anyway, I was sad to hear of his death. I remember his creativity as a broadcaster, and any man who gave Stanley Unwin work is to be admired.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning that VLS studied music - it explains something that's been puzzling me. Several years ago BBC2 showed a number of short films, shot in different churches in Germany, showing all(?) of the Bach Preludes. Different organs, different organists, no commentary, and all exquisitely filmed. I was rather surprised to see that VLS was the producer. They were very good indeed, and I'm surprised that they haven't been broadcast again.

tonyhill said...

Apologies if I've mentioned this before, but in about 1960/61 my father managed to persuade 'Professor' Stanley Unwin to come along to our house to be interviewed by some of his school pupils. My father was an enthusiastic advocate of tape recorders and ran the unfortunately monikered St Christopher Recording Unit which disseminated the Stanley Unwin interview. All I remember of it was that it took him a while to get into character and for his unique take on the English language to begin to flow. I may still have the tape in one of the boxes I inherited from him.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks for sharing that story. It would be great if you could find the tape!