Saturday, February 09, 2013

Classical music's most successful woman presenter

..the most successful of all women announcers – her personality is a combination of dignity and friendliness. There had been female announcers on the Third from the very beginning – Marjorie Anderson, and also Joy Worth, who had a lovely, slightly ‘ginny’ voice. You’ve got to be a very special woman to have a good broadcasting voice – the male voice is, normally, much harder and clearer. I brought Patricia [Hughes] back after her maternity absence. Later I brought in Elaine Padmore and Susan Sharpe.
Cormac Rigby, presentation editor of BBC Radio 3 from 1972 to 1985 remembers Patricia Hughes who has died age 90. That fulsome praise appears in Humphrey Carpenter’s The Envy of the World – Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3, a book that also contains an anecdote relevant to the current dumbing-down debate:
Rigby recalls that Stephen Hearst [controller Radio 3 1973-78] did not initially share his enthusiasm for Patricia Hughes: ‘He took me out to lunch, and we were talking about reducing the starch in the network, and Stephen said: “My dear Cormac, you have to get rid of that terrible woman with the Kensington voice.” And I realised he meant Patricia, who was the most popular individual member of my announcing team, and I said, “You must be joking.” He wasn’t, but he was always a big enough man to rethink his own prejudices.’ Hearst himself confirms he soon came to admire her greatly.
Patricia Hughes is seated in centre front in the header photo. Readers who remember the days when BBC Radio 3 really was the envy of the world will also recognize from left to right standing, Jon Curle, Victor Hallam, Tony Scotland, Donald Price, Cormac Rigby, and seated left to right, Tom Crowe, Peter Barker, PH, Robin Holmes and Norman McLeod. There is a nice Tom Crowe story here.

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