BBC apology for Honved fade-out 

14 December 2020

Protest calls jammed Broadcasting House phones



Yorkshire Post masthead

From the Yorkshire Post for 14 December 1954

“A VERY repentant” BBC announcer, Mr. Adrian Waller, broke into “Show Band” on the BBC’s Light Programme last night to apologise to listeners for fading out the last half-minute of the commentary on the dramatic Wolves v. Honved match, which Wolves won 3-2.

Hundreds of Soccer enthusiasts, angered by the fade-out, jammed every telephone line to Broadcasting House, London, for nearly half an hour.


Mr. Waller made his apology in these words: “This is a very repentant Adrian Waller saying I do realise I made a mistake in fading out that great match which the Wolves won by three goals to two. I know a great many listeners phoned up about this. I am sorry to have put them to the trouble. This is the kind of mistake we only make once and needless to say I shall be very wary of doing it again.”

Mr. Waller again apologised at the end of the “Show Band” show saying: “How kind can listeners be? Many of you have rung up to say you forgive me for fading the Wolves-Honved match. I would like to take this opportunity of apologising to the directors of the Light Programme.”

‘A bit precipitate’

A BBC spokesman said later that as continuity announcer Mr. Waller had full responsibility to see that the programme schedule was maintained as per programme list.”

He was given no specific instructions to let the commentary continue until the end of the match, but the BBC spokesman added: “Perhaps he was a bit precipitate in fading it out.”



Stamina told

The Hungarians, who led 2-0 at half time, were routed by a side that possessed greater reserves of stamina.

Billy Wright, the Wolverhampton captain, was delighted, remembering England’s 6-3 defeat by Hungary at Wembley a year ago when he was England’s captain. “It was good to get revenge for that Wembley defeat,” he said. “It was a wonderful achievement by a wonderful team. We outlasted them.”

The Hungarians would not make any comment, their manager, Gustav Szebes, the Deputy Minister of Sport, saying: “We don’t want to say anything. We lost the match and that’s that.”



❛❛Russ J Graham writes: So it’s not just ITV that has issues with this type of thing. That’s good to know.


Radio and TV schedule

Radio and TV schedule for 13 December 1954 from the Yorkshire Post


My sympathies lie with Adrian Waller here. 9.15pm is an important junction for the BBC today, with opportunities to promote the start of Witch Wood on the Home Service and Music for You on the Television Service, as well as the very popular Show Band Show on the Light. If he’d stayed with the match, that opportunity would’ve been lost; the Show Band Show would then have over-run into the 10pm news – an important programme, as there were only summaries to be found on the Home and Television before closedown for those wanting to be kept informed. That would mean shortening the news to get back on schedule, even if only for 3 or 4 minutes, which would provoke more complaints from different listeners.

The lack of direction he was given – and one presumes there must not have been a producer or somebody available to decide with him – was only ever likely to push him in the direction of keeping his network on track.

According to John Hendley in Wolves’ Greatest Games, Kenneth Adam, controller of the Light Programme, was listening to the game at home and called a taxi to take him to Broadcasting House to remonstrate with Waller. This is what produced the breaking into the Show Band Show to offer an apology to listeners – quite a humbling, and unfair, thing to do to poor continuity announcer.

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