The Famous Forgotten


The Famous Forgotten

1955.  6pm.   Alone in the BBC  office  for  Music Presentation, waiting for a lift home, this rookie answered the phone to a deep brown velvet voice.

“Good Evening.  This is Alvar Lidell – ”

“Could you spell that please?”

“(chuckle) How old are you?”

“Er … 17, why?”

“BBC Home Service.  Here is the News, and this is Alvar Lidell reading it – ring any bells?”

“Oh. (hesitant).  How can I help?”

The upshot was that the caller had not received the programme notes we should have sent him for a concert at 9pm that evening.  I gasped:  unforgivable sin.  Except that the concert was not billed and must have been a last-minute addition.

I scurried to find the list of works to be played, raided the shelves where notes on every conceivable classical work were filed, and codged together what I hoped was a suitably prosy-radio-announcer-style set of introductions for the programme – 6 copies, before the days of electric typewriters and photocopiers.

“Mr. Lidell, this is Music Presentation again.  Where do you want the script?

“Could you bring it to my house by 7.30pm?” (no FAX then, too late for a courrier).

“Where is it, please?”

It was in a West London suburb, on my way home.  Phew!

So that’s how I came to meet, briefly, the charming man who was the BBC’s chief announcer throughout World War II.  He it was who announced the abdication of King Edward VIII, and on Sunday, 3 September 1939 read the ultimatum to Germany from 10 Downing Street, then, at 11 am introduced Neville Chamberlain to tell the nation that we were at war.

Alvar Lidell image from RadioAcademy.Org

Tony Maud at dVerse Meeting the Bar gave us a selection of old prompts to write to, and I foolishly chose the one to write a 55 word story.  This tale of my early working life immediately came into my head and I set out to write it.  Darn it, 55 words were far too few to do it justice, but I carried on regardless.  Sorry Tony!


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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20 Responses to The Famous Forgotten

  1. margaret says:

    This was so well worth 55 words x 10! I love it and what a wonderful memory! Thanks for telling it.


  2. colonialist says:

    Delightful story, though 270 words were still too few to do it full justice. I hope he had some concept of the ordeal he had put such a young rookie through, and how well you had risen to the occasion!


  3. ds says:

    Love this story. A slice of life, and a piece of history. Thank you so much for sharing it!


  4. Mary says:

    I enjoyed this true life reflection, Viv. What a wonderful memory this must be & a good story to tell.


  5. kaykuala says:

    I love a real life story. It rounds up an experience that others lacked. A great 55 Viv!



  6. Jo Woolf says:

    A lovely story, Viv! 🙂 Thanks for sharing it.


  7. Anna :o] says:

    Excellent story – and you met the great man! What better!
    Anna :o]


  8. I love your prose style Viv and was taken with your description of the voice in the opening paragraph. Great work!


  9. Real life .. Yes that require more than 55… That’s a difference between fiction and realities … What a memory to meet a legend like that.


  10. Raven Spirit says:

    I LOVED THIS! Mummy worked in London during WWII.


  11. I bet you chuckle a bit each time you think of this. what a delightful memory to have.


  12. claudia says:

    what a cool story and what a wonderful encounter, meeting someone like him… ha.. i love how you weren’t familiar with his name… and yep… 55 words is def. tough to do


  13. Tony Maude says:

    Great story, Viv – and I’m gald you ignored the 55-word limit; there’s no way you could have done justice to this in so few words.


  14. This story sounds like quite and adventure for a 17 year old. I am glad you decided against the word limit for the sake of telling the entire tale.


  15. kkkkaty says:

    ,,,,felt like I was there…55 is a challenge, that is for sure…;)


  16. Misky says:

    Fascinating story, Viv!


  17. brian miller says:

    ha. ok, fun story…pretty cool how you met by chance…and you could be of help by being in the right place at the right time….i hear you on 55 being hard, knowing what to cut….


  18. emangster00 says:

    this was a really fun story to read. I like the part where the callet chuckles. It’s a really lively story!


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