Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sally Hardcastle

Sally Hardcastle, a BBC reporter and presenter for nearly 30 years, has died at her home in Shepherd's Bush - I believe she was 69.

Sally was the daughter of William "Bill" Hardcastle, a former editor of the Daily Mail, and founding presenter of The World At One on Radio 4, who died in 1975.

I can find little about Sally's pre-BBC career, but she first surfaces in the Radio Times as a researcher on a tv series of 1976/77 called The Editors. In 1978, she was doing the same job on a higher profile strand called The Americans, fronted by Desmond Wilcox - Mr Esther Rantzen.

She did a stint as a tv news reporter later in 1978, for BBC South, then joined the reporting team for the 1979 re-incarnation of Tonight, under Roger Bolton.  Colleagues included Bernard Falk, Vincent Hanna and Jeremy Paxman. Six months later she moved to the Frank Bough/Sue Lawley Nationwide team. Her tv style was self-effacing - not many pieces to camera, just good questions and an elegant track. Richard Ingrams noticed, in this Spectator review from 1978.

From 1984, she worked on a range of Radio 4 programmes, alongside BBC2 "history" strands, such as The 20th Century Remembered.  She fronted Profiles, reported for and occasionally presented The World Tonight, and, in 1988, delivered a six-part series on the USA, "From Sea to Shining Sea".  She was tried out on Woman's Hour, but what she really enjoyed was on-the-ground reporting, and the World Tonight used her on party conferences, elections at home and abroad, and European politics.

More recently she'd been working as a reporter on business news for The World Service, which brought her recognition around the globe.

My first encounters with Sally came when The World Tonight and Newsbeat had an unlikely but entertaining adjacency on the fourth floor of Broadcasting House. Her infectious, low, laughter often preceeded her - an unusual trait for the rather cerebral reporting team on that show. At World Service, her need for a cigarette meant she was often there to greet you at the entrance to the South-East Wing (father Bill had asked for a tobacco plant as his Desert Island Disc luxury) and exchange pointed but funny observations on the general incompetence of BBC management.

Sally produced a substantial body of work (though I suspect sadly much of the tv stuff is gone), and did it with insight, style and fun.  


  1. My amazing aunt what a beautiful person xx

    1. I hope you have many happy memories to treasure; she was a great lady


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