Sunday, November 13, 2016

Richard Anthony Baker

Richard Anthony Baker, a BBC news writer, producer and presenter for 30-odd years, has died aged 70.

Richard came from an East End working-class heritage. The Bakers made fireworks, eventually selling out to Brocks. His father, Bill moved to Leigh-on-Sea. He took the stage name Will Keogh and became a minor music hall comedian, basing his act on that of Billy Bennett. Son Richard built on that acquired family knowledge to produce and present series after series on Radio 2 on the music hall greats, and several books on the same topic. Richard also collected Victorian sheet music, which he played on the trombone, tuba and sousaphone.

His elder brother John joined the BBC as a studio manager, eventually being paid for his musical skills at the Radiophonic Workshop.

Richard joined the BBC Radio Newsroom as a sub, rising to Assistant Editor. He used it as a springboard for many other things. He contributed jokes to Weekending, produced International Assignment on Radio 4, and devised and presented over three hundred editions of Brief Lives on Radio 5 Live, the pioneering radio obituary programme, pre-cursor of the slightly-better-staffed The Last Word on Radio 4.  The obituary-writing continued after the BBC, with close to three hundred produced for The Stage.  He also co-edited a six-monthly-journal, British Music Hall Studies.


  1. Bill, thanks for posting this. Over the years I've thought of Richard often. He was a true gent and it was a pleasure to work near him at Five Live in the mid to late 1990s. I worked as a reporter on Brief Lives just one week of that time and enjoyed his gentle advice and humour. I also have fond memories of his "leaving do" at Simpsons in the Strand! Will Leitch

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