Tag: Bill Coysh


GEOFFREY GRIGSON – West country naturalist and broadcaster.

What else is there in this regional broadcasting? What else makes the West of England Home Service different from the other Home Services? There is, for one thing, all that is meant by the not very attractive word ‘culture’. Culture interpreted widely — to mean not only the arts, but the general way of life. The West country has its own natural endowment, its special interests and gifts, its special heritage and aptitudes. To take visible things first — its countryside and its native styles of building are quite different from those of the Fen country or the Scottish highlands. It is not much industrialized. It has an immense coastline in relation to its land area. All very obvious facts, but translate them into terms of programmes and you quickly find that the westcountryman is more interested in gale warnings than the Midlander, better acquainted with rural life than the Londoner, not so factory-minded as the Lancashireman. And to broadcast to a Cornish farmer about mustard-growing (invaluable though it would be to a Norfolk man) is about as helpful as a discourse on bee-keeping in Tibet.

‘THRESHING IT OUT!’ – Will Plant (left), a Somerset farmer, discusses the rights and wrongs of linseed-growing with Bill Coysh, Robert Waller, and Ralph Wightman

‘GALE WARNING’ – Or maybe fog coming up. Fishermen aboard a Looe trawler switch on for the wheater forecast.

Here, then, regional broadcasting has to adapt the national pattern carefully to local needs. Western farmers and growers and gardeners have their own talks and specialist services, based on local conditions. Those who broadcast to them are men and women who know the land and climate of the south-west. Public events in the farming world of the region are covered specially and reported by West Region. The religious life of the West is reflected and fostered by broadcasts from our churches and chapels and from the West of England studios. To meet the needs of fishermen in Devon, Cornwall, and the Channel Islands, West Region arranged for day-time gale warnings to be broadcast before the 1 o’clock news. And one example leads to another in every sphere from book reviews to charitable appeals. In science and in literature West Region’s contribution is to make known and appraise the achievements of the West. We have our own history, our celebrities and local worthies, our antiquities and our pioneers who should not be without honour among us; it is only natural that those things which grow out of our familiar native landscape and customs should hold more interest for us than those whose roots and relevance are elsewhere.

‘LEANING ON THE GATE’ – Deep Dorset in his voice – the rhythms of the countryside in his thoughts – Ralph Wightman is heard regularly in West Region Programmes.

Country Questions

‘YOU CAN ALL HAVE A GO ON THE FIRST ONE’ – Producer Bill Coysh sorts out the questions for the ‘Country Questions’ team. Eric Hobbis will deal with the one about musk; Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald can tackle the Camberwell Beauty; it’s warble flies for Ralph Wightman; and Jack Longland wisecracks in between.

LEFT TO RIGHT, AND BACK TO FRONT – Hobbis, Wightman, Fitzgerald, Longland, and Coysh have finished another session. And they are thirsty.


MONDAYS AT 2.15 – Chaired by Frank Gillard, West Region’s Programme Board brings together producers, engineers, and administrators to plan and criticize the Region’s work. Comment is free and lively – ranges from Start Point’s lightning conductor to a mispronounced place-name.

How did it go? Tate will get some idea in the canteen next morning, over coffee. Some of the criticism will be technical. ‘Had you got any screens in studio 5? It sounded a little bit boxy at times.’ Some of it will turn on individual performances. ‘That girl was good — where did you get hold of her?’ ‘Ruth Drake? She’s a new artist. First she’s done for us.’ On the following Monday the Programme Board will discuss the M32 show in a more formal inquest on the week’s broadcasts. Here producers, engineers, and administrators gather to deal with operational problems and assess the quality of each programme broadcast from West Region. Comment is free and lively.

‘ADDRESS YOUR REQUESTS TO BBC, BRISTOL’ – Broadcasting House, Bristol, Headquarters of the West Region, stands in a tree-lined Whiteladies Road, Clifton – ‘on the right, just beyond the traffic lights’, as any bus conductor will tell you.

And as one programme is completed, another is planned. The story of M32 is, in one form or another, the daily story of West Region. At Bristol and at Plymouth — in the two Broadcasting Houses of the West — the BBC staff accept a corporate obligation which transcends individual personalities. Their task is to provide a service of information, of education, and of entertainment, adapted to the needs of the Region and embodying the resources of the Region. During its first quarter of a century the BBC has aimed to maintain in its programmes a high standard of integrity and decent purpose. West Region’s continuing endeavour is to strengthen and enhance that tradition.

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