Tony Whitby

Last updated
Tony Whitby
Born
Anthony Charles Whitby

19 November 1929 [1]
Died25 February 1975 (aged 45)
Kensington, Greater London, England
Other namesTony Lesser
Education Bristol Cathedral School
Alma mater St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Spouse(s)
(m. 1954)
[2]

Anthony Charles Whitby (19 November 1929 25 February 1975) [3] [4] was a British BBC Radio producer and television current affairs editor who was Controller of BBC Radio 4 from 1970 to 1975. [5]

Contents

Early life and education

Whitby was born in Mere, Wiltshire and was educated at Bristol Cathedral School, where he won a scholarship to St Edmund Hall, Oxford. [5] There he wrote a thesis on Matthew Arnold. [6] [7]

Career

Whitby began his career as a civil servant in the Civil Service from 1954 to 1959, working in the Colonial Office. [5] [8]

Whitby joined the BBC as a radio producer on At Home and Abroad in the 1950s. [8] In 1961, Whitby transferred to television as a studio director of Panorama , and later an editor on Gallery, [6] Tonight and 24 Hours . Whitby was Secretary of the BBC, [8] before his appointment as Controller of Radio 4 in 1969, taking up the post in January 1970. [6] In this post, he gained a reputation for shrewdly picking out the ideas of others and embellishing them by adding his own thoughts and suggestions. He had no intention of creating a new schedule from scratch, but he wanted a more topical and a more varied flavour - to make Radio 4, in his words, like a "well-labelled library that has a few surprises in it". So, in 1970, along came the unashamedly serious Analysis and the magisterial World Tonight , the bright and breezy 'commuter magazine' PM Reports and a phone-in called It's Your Line , the satirical sketch-show Week Ending , and the consumer magazine You and Yours . [9] In 1972, Whitby commissioned the first series of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue [10] and in 1973 Kaleidoscope . [7] In 2010, David Hendy, lecturer in broadcasting history at the University of Westminster, said:

"Looking back, what's most striking about Whitby's revolution of 1970 is how genuinely eclectic it made Radio 4, with programmes stretching across a suddenly wider spectrum, from the intellectually demanding or disturbing at one end to the faintly scurrilous or comforting at the other. The changes 40 years ago set Radio 4 on its long-term trajectory: away from the dusty tones of the somewhat middlebrow old Home Service, to the tougher, livelier, more authoritative, network we have today". [9]

Whitby also wrote several plays under the pseudonym Tony Lesser. [5]

His wife was Joy Whitby, known for her work in children's television. [11]

He died at age 45, after a long illness. [5]

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References

  1. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
  2. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
  3. David Hendy Life on Air, Oxford University Press, 2008 [2007]
  4. Simon Elmes And Now on Radio 4: A Celebration of the World's Best Radio Station, Arrow (pb), 2008 [2007], p.32
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Anthony Whitby – Controller of Radio 4". The Times . 27 February 1975. p. 16.
  6. 1 2 3 The Birth of BBC Radio 4’s Analysis, Hugh Chignell
  7. 1 2 Mainly fair, moderate, or good, Stefan Collini, The Guardian, 22 September 2007
  8. 1 2 3 Bournemouth University BBC Radio 4 Analysis Archive Project Archived 2011-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  9. 1 2 A year of anniversaries on Radio 4, David Hendy, 6 October 2010
  10. I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue,
  11. Samira Ahmed "Joy Whitby: a life spent telling children's stories on TV", The Daily Telegraph 1 February 2013