Harry Green

Harry Green

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Tuesday, 1st February 2011

John Bird wrote:

Harry Green, a pioneer of television in the North East, died on January 12, aged 81. He spent his entire working life with the BBC starting at the age of 16 at Stagshaw transmitter as part of the youths in training scheme and going on to become a producer with BBC North East in Newcastle.

He was indeed a pioneer of television in Newcastle and many are grateful for his help in those early days. Mike Alder, who left newspaper journalism to join the fledgling television news service, and went on to become Controller, English Regions, says he will be ever grateful to Harry — a lovely man — for helping him get started.

Harry was the man who got 'News at Six' — the forerunner of 'Look North' — on air. The presenter at that time was Frank Bough.

Before moving to Newcastle, Harry had done a stint with radio in London and worked on such classic programmes as 'ITMA' and 'Journey into Space'. He also took great pride in the fact that when a wonderful episode of 'The Goon Show' — about ridding London of starlings — was broadcast from Newcastle, he did the sound mixing.

Harry was a Geordie through and through and when he did his National Service in Egypt, as part of the Forces Broadcasting team, his CO said he had an awful accent and they would have to get rid of it. At that time all. members of the team had to take voice tests in case there was a shortage of announcers. Carrying out the tests was one of the BBC's leading announcers Alvar Liddell. He wrote, 'Green's voice must be used only in extreme emergencies.' That must have rubbed off because when Harry returned one colleague said of Harry 'he sounded so posh I didn't recognise him.'

Harry will probably be best remembered as the producer of such shows as 'The Wall Game' and 'Looks Natural' that got huge viewing figures in the North East. He once produced an item for 'Looks Natural' about swifts raising a family in a bird box below the bedroom window of former Prime Minister Lord Home.

But Harry was a worrier. On one occasion, asking the Duke of Edinburgh for an interview be heard himself saying it would be for the programme a great FILLIP if he would take part. 'Well,' said the Duke, with a smile, 'after a dreadful pun like that I suppose I'll have to.'

Another who will always be grateful to Harry is Dr.David Bellamy. One of his first television appearances was in a series of programmes Harry produced based on a book 'The Great Seasons' written by Dr. Bellamy. David told me at Harry's funeral that series of programmes, for him, is still the best work he has ever done. Sadly the programmes seem to have disappeared and David would like anybody who might know where they are to get in touch with him.

Harry's finest achievement was — without doubt — persuading June, one of the singing group, The Barry Sisters, to become his wire. Harry was 55 when they married, but they had 25 happy years together. He once told me that this was the best thing that ever happened to him in his entire life.


[Reproduced from the BBC retired staff newspaper, 'Prospero', by kind permission]

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