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29 October 2014
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BBC remembers Tony Shryane

Tony Shryane, a former producer of The Archers, including its first episode, has died.

He was 84 and had been ill for some time. He died peacefully at his home in St Austell in Cornwall.

Members of The Archers cast of 1951 - Harry Oakes (Dan Archer), Bob Arnold (Tom Forrest), Gwen Berryman (Doris Archer), Harry Stubbs (Rev John Ridley) - and Tony Shryane

Born in Harbourne in Birmingham on 20 January 1919, Tony Shryane declined his father's offer of a gold watch if he went to grammar school (he'd passed the entrance exam) as he was anxious to start work.

His first job with the BBC was in the Effects Department. As a junior producer's assistant at the Birmingham studios, Tony began to learn the secrets of giving life-like sounds to programmes in the days when everyone listened to the wireless.

He served in the Second World War and when he was demobbed in 1945, went back to the BBC, working on the very first radio soap, The Robinson Family, as well as Mrs Dale's Diary and Dick Barton.

On 1 January 1951, Tony produced the very first episode of The Archers and went on to produce more than seven thousand episodes over the next 28 years.

The Archers is now the world's longest running broadcast drama serial.

As well as working on The Archers, Tony Shryane also devised Guilty Party (1954), a crime quiz; My Word (1956), a literary quiz for radio and television with Nancy Spain, Dilys Powell, Frank Muir and Denis Norden; and My Music (1966), again for radio and television, chaired by Steve Race.

In 1961, Tony was awarded the MBE for services to radio and when the then Director-General of the BBC, Sir Ian Trethowan, wrote to Tony on his retirement in 1979, he told him that reading his file covering 45 years - during which time he'd never missed a day through illness - was like reading a history of broadcasting.

The retirement was really only on paper as freelancing as a 60-year-old, Tony went on producing My Word and My Music and having completed 50 years service in 1984, he finally hung up his headphones.

Vanessa Whitburn, editor of The Archers, says: "We are saddened to learn of the death of Tony Shryane.

"Tony was incredibly important in establishing the foundations of The Archers which has lasted for more than fifty years.

"After leaving, he remained a friend of the programme and kept in touch with Archers' actors and production team over the years, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude.

"Our sincere sympathy is extended to his wife, family and friends."

She adds: "I met Tony when I first worked on The Archers in the 1970s. He kept a supportive and gentle eye on me - an enthusiastic young producer who was so thrilled to be working on the programme."

Norman Painting, who has played Phil Archer since it began in 1951, says: "I first met Tony 54 years ago, before The Archers began, and he always had a phenomenal amount of enthusiasm. I shall always remember him for his enormous energy and tremendous imagination, as he was always having new ideas.

"The BBC has never employed a more hard working and loyal man, as Tony always believed in doing everything to the letter."

Jenny Abramsky, Director of Radio & Music, says: "Without Tony Shryane, some of the most iconic programmes on Radio 4 would not have been created.

"His is a lasting legacy and while his contribution to The Archers is rightly regarded as hugely important, we also remember his contribution across a whole range of BBC programmes such as working on My Word and My Music."

Tony leaves his wife Valerie and their sons Dominic and Michael. Their daughter Elizabeth died in 1992 in a road accident. Tony also has a son, Paul, from his first marriage.



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