Frank Phillips - BBC News 1938 and 1941

Jun 13, 2012, 07:00 AM

“You’re up to date, I’m Fred Farnsbarns”. Yes, for a journalist or newsreader to own the words in their bulletins is now commonplace.

It was not always the case. Indeed, given listeners are seeking information rather than personality; and information must be strictly impartial and thus indistinguishable whosoever is reading it, there is a case that listeners may not need to know who is thumbing through the copy and reading it out loud.

During the War, though, where the first casualty is said to be the truth, it was felt that listeners “must be able to recognise instantly the authentic voice of BBC broadcasting", so the instruction was issued that newsreaders should identify themselves.

Frank Phillips was first to do it, in July 1940, and I am sure Our Frank became the talk of his neighbourhood by so doing. They made a meal of it too, with phrases like ‘here is the news - and this is Alvar Lidell reading it’.

But what presence this generation of readers had - and just maybe some of today's readers could learn - not from the dated style - but from how engaging each sentence is rendered. Savour the talents of Frank here. I love his pronunciation of 'coupons', where the word's French origins are made abundantly clear.