It’s funny how careful an announcer must be 

27 February 2019

From parade ground to TV studio via the theatre, David Geary has still kept his sense of humour, despite some unpleasant drawbacks

From the TVTimes Anglia for 20-26 October 1973

David Geary, who spent 13 years with BBC radio before joining Anglia TV as a newsreader, discovered early in his broadcasting career that it doesn’t pay to make even the smallest joke over the air — somebody is bound to get upset.

Like the time Geary introduced a music programme and explained that the band was going to play a fast piece. He added light-heartedly that the band were “used to fast pieces”. An irate lady listener didn’t think it was funny — and Geary was carpeted.

“I had to be so careful. The temptation to add a few personal comments was enormous at times. But I quickly learned that it was best to keep them to myself.”

David Geary, by the way, was not the BBC announcer who said on the air: “Mad songs and particles” instead of: “Part songs and madrigals.” But there was the time when he had a 5 a.m. cup of tea before making a studio announcement about the film Gone With The Wind. He punctuated the announcement with a stomach rumble that was picked up on a sensitive microphone.

David Geary, 45 and 6ft. tall, was born in Hertfordshire, but spent most of his early years in Gloucestershire. At college in Cheltenham he became interested in amateur dramatics, but it wasn’t until he had completed a three-year commission with the Royal Corps of Signals that he decided on an acting career and joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Newsreader David Geary: still apprehensive about appearing on television. Photograph: Phil King

“My father was a regular soldier,” he explained. “I went into the Signals when I was 17, just after the war. I had 18 months’ training in England and then another 18 in Ceylon. I have the greatest admiration for those who are enthusiastic about training, but I’m afraid that wasn’t for me.”

He quit the Army and spent two years at R.A.D.A., then seven more as an actor and stage manager.

His most satisfying break was understudying Kenneth More and playing opposite Googie Withers in The Deep Blue Sea in a West End of London production.

“I was lucky. There were few times when I was out of work. I was always understudying, playing small parts, or on the stage management side,” he said. “I hope this doesn’t sound as if I’m trying to be grand, but after a while I felt I was not being extended enough.

“You might be in a successful, long-running play, but you seem to spend most of your time just sitting around in a dressing-room. I thought it was about time I had some sort of re-start in life.”

After an apparently endless series of interviews and auditions, he joined the BBC as a radio announcer in 1958. In all he spent 13 years with the Corporation, eight as an announcer and five as a drama producer. There was also a period in which he introduced his own record request show, Just For You.

“Radio announcing is a strange sort of life,” he said. “You are talking to thousands of people, yet you can walk down the road and not be recognised. Perhaps it was this aspect that to me was so appealing.”

As a drama producer he was responsible for the radio versions of many notable plays, including Oscar Wilde’s Ideal Husband.

After the BBC, he decided on another “re-start” and became a freelance writer and broadcaster.

David Geary, the newscaster, with the studio floor manager, Sonny Vassallo

“I wrote some humorous pieces for Radio London and adapted three novels for radio drama. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I really enjoyed the work.”

His switch to Anglia TV after two years as a freelance was almost an accident. He and his family — wife Sheila and their 10-month-old daughter Melanie — were planning a holiday in Norfolk. “As I was going to be in the area I rang Anglia to see if there was any work for a freelance. They said they wanted a newsreader.”

He went for the audition — and was immediately accepted for the job.

After years of working in radio and being “just a name and a voice”, David Geary admits he is a little apprehensive about appearing on television.

“You see, it means being a face as well as a voice. But, although I’m a bit reserved. I don’t think it will be a real problem.”

You Say

4 responses to this article

Mark Jarvis 19 March 2019 at 11:31 am

Didn’t he do some news reading for LBC ?

Arthur Vasey 9 September 2020 at 11:50 am

He was an IRN newsreader – he was on duty at IRN reading the midnight news on the night Southern TV was blotted out by a supposed alien!

Jason 12 April 2021 at 6:43 am

A bit unfair that example of being “carpeted”… I’ve heard far worse down the years.

Bill Steel at Tyne Tees once referred to Dolly Parton as “two of my favourites right there”… I don’t recall there being any complaints!

Mark Marshall 14 April 2023 at 10:34 pm

Ahhh, David Geary. His nut brown voice and received pronunciation was always a joy to hear on the IRN bulletins especially at the weekends. His was one the most soothing and reassuring newsreaders from IRN across the ILR network in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

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