Thursday, December 31, 2015


Not a great haul for the BBC in the New Year's Honours List.

Alan Stennett, 72, son of a Lincolnshire farmer, and still broadcasting a weekly farming programme for Radio Lincolnshire thirty five years after helping open the station, picks up a British Empire Medal.  He started as a technician, studio manager and scriptwriter at Bush House in the 60s. He's been freelance since 1994.

Sue Barker adds the Order of the British Empire to her MBE. Football commentator and presenter Jacqui Oatley, though now freelance, ought to count as a BBC gong for her MBE, working first for Auntie on non-league football at Radio Leeds in 2003 while picking up her journalism diploma from Sheffield Hallam.

Belfast journalist Anne Hailes was part of the Walter Love show on Radio Ulster, with the feature Ask Anne, in the 1970s and reported from Northern Ireland for the World Service on programmes like At Home and Network UK. She took Ask Anne to UTV and is now a columnist for the Irish News. She becomes a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Writer Simon Brett, now 70, gets the OBE. He started as trainee producer in BBC Radio's Light Entertainment department in 1968. He worked with David Hatch to start Week Ending in 1970, then came The News Huddlines and The Burkiss Way. He wrote over 100 scripts for "Frank Muir Goes Into..."  His last job at the BBC was producing the pilot episode of The Hitch–Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams in 1977 - he then headed to London Weekend Television. Later came series of crime novels (Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, Fethering and Blotto & Twinks). He wrote the sticom After Henry, starring Prunella Scales, which ran on Radio 4 from 1985 to 1989, before running for another four years on ITV.

Beryl Vertue, now CBE, is cited for services to television drama, and is probably most famous now as executive producer of Sherlock. But she started in entertainment in 1955, typing Goon Show scripts as secretary to Spike Milligan, Eric Sykes, Alan Simpson (an old school pal) and Ray Galton in an office above a greengrocer's shop in Shepherds Bush. She found herself negotiating fees and became the de facto agent for Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd. and went on to do much, much more.

Others with honours and BBC connections: actors Sian Phillips, Imelda Staunton, Idris Elba and James Nesbitt. Dame Heather Rabbatts was a BBC governor from 1999 to 2001. Financial commentator David Buik is a stalwart of BBC News business output.

Pianist and accompanist Malcolm Martineau (a graduate of St Catharine's College, Cambridge) will be familiar to Radio 3 listeners.

Mike Allbut, who used to present weekend Asian music shows on Radio Leicester, and hosted the Asian Top 20 when the Asian Network went UK-wide, gets the British Empire medal - for services as a school governor.

Newsreader and now knight Sir Martyn Lewis will long be remembered for his valiant attempt to bring Good News to the BBC, a challenge taken up by Jenny Abramsky, starting Radio 5 Live in 1994. She included Now the Good News in her first schedules, a Friday night hour presented by Bill Hamilton and Eddie the Eagle.  It lasted just over a year.

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