John Holmes appears to be throwing down a challenge in his recently published autobiography, ‘This Is the BBC Holmes Service’.
“No one could possibly have enjoyed a more varied career in the BBC than me,” he boasts.
Just his production work at BBC Radio 4 shows considerable depth, having worked on such cornerstones of the output as, Any Questions?, Any Answers?, The Natural History Programme and Down Your Way.
Highlights here include visiting 10, Downing Street with Nigel Hawthorne to interview Margaret Thatcher and visiting the birthplace of The Goons, Bexhill, with Spike Milligan.
John joined the Corporation in 1969 as a Programmes Operations Assistant [SM] in Broadcasting House, London, working in the Music and Light Entertainment Department. He spent a short time in Birmingham on Broad Street. His work here included spot effects on ‘The Archers’. This was before the days of Pebble Mill.
His next stop was with the local radio network, at BBC Radio Nottingham. It was perfect timing, working on sport in those halcyon days when Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest were winning the European Cup, Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club were on top with Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee and Torvill and Dean were dominating ice dance.
At Radio Nottingham he also regularly presented and produced a children’s request show called Bran Tub, and Extravaganza, the station’s progressive music programme.
His work on the latter lead to him being asked to co-present a highly successful series of youth shows for BBC Midlands TV in Birmingham. Look! Hear! with Toyah Wilcox and Chris Phipps was so successful that at its height it was attracting over 600 letters a week.
This in turn resulted in being asked to front many opt-outs for Pebble Mill, including his own hobbies based shows called Sparetime.
His next stop was the BBC TV’s first half hour consumer series, Inside Information, broadcast on BBC 2, co-presenting alongside Nigel Farrell.
After his eight years at Radio 4 in Bristol, he returned to his roots in Local Radio, but also presented Holmes & Away, a historic walks feature for East Midlands Today. It ran for eight series – a total of 33 walks.
He was also asked to regularly present items on Inside Out East Midlands. For him the highlight was a full half documentary in one of the country’s top security hospitals, Rampton.
Covid 19 has interrupted his broadcasting in Nottingham, because at his age he’s considered ‘vulnerable’, but he hopes to be back soon presenting every Sunday morning, 9 until noon. Special guests on that show have included Dame Stella Rimington of MI5, Sir Paul Smith, Nobel Prize Winner for creating the MRI scanner, Sir Peter Mansfield, Dr Stewart Adams pioneer of Ibruprofen, Lord Falconer and Sir Peter Bazalgette.
So the gauntlet has been thrown down. Have you enjoyed a more varied broadcasting career than John?
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