Thursday, September 17, 2015

Barry Rocard

One of the most distinctive BBC voices unheard by listeners and viewers is no more. Barry Rocard, who worked as a "news organiser" in the newsroom at Broadcasting House for nearly 22 years, has died suddenly at the age of 76.

In the days before newsroom computers, with everyone now copytasting, the newsroom relied on an internal tannoy for alerts to breaking news. Barry, who came to the UK from radio in Australia in 1970, had a distinctive deep bass voice, and relished opportunities to hit the mike key on his desk, which relayed news snaps around Broadcasting House, Television Centre and Bush House.

Unlike later models, Barry was a phlegmatic and pragmatic cog in the frenetic wheel of breaking news - and still everything got done.  Occasionally, the switchboard, in the absence of Listener Lines and Call Centres, would route a complainant to newsroom phones. If Barry picked it up, he would listen apparently attentively, and at the end of the rant, ask for the caller's licence fee number, to enable the complaint to be dealt with formally. That was usually that.

Barry enunciated a little more discreetly when filing overnight to Australian stations from odd corners of the newsroom. After leaving the BBC in 1992 (just before the radio operation was frogmarched to Television Centre), he built on his love of pro- and am-dram, obtaining a LAMDA senior acting diploma, and becoming a pillar of community drama in Surbiton (where the cornerHouse is raising a glass to his memory tonight). He also toured with the English Concert Singers.  Links with radio news chums were kept through organising a regular Christmas get-together.

He assumed the character of Roman doctor Galen, for an Ancient Discoveries documentary in 2003 - but you only get glimpses of that rugged profile....



  1. This is a lovely tribute and chimes perfectly with the dear friend I grew to know over the last few years. I cast Barry as Patrick Bronte in my play 'Friller' and he was brilliant. Even more importantly, he gave his unending support, encouragement and advice. It made all the difference and I cannot bear that he will never star again in Friller when we finally get it back in production. I am a journalist and his hilarious stories, clear-sighted take on the pomposity of people in power, sincere respect for fellow writers, strong ethics and basic generosity of spirit cannot be replaced. There will always be a hole in our lives where our dear friend Barry should be. We can only send love and sympathy to his equally-lovely family. Sharon

    1. "Friller" in Haworth looks to have been a hoot, and Barry had experience in BBC Northern Ireland, as you know, which helped with the accent. Thanks for writing in, Sharon.


Other people who read this.......