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Last on

Thu 21 Jun 2012 11:30 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 21 June 2012

Barry Johnston explores the forgotten work of his father Brian to reveal a remarkable broadcasting career long before he became affectionately known as 'Johnners'.

Today, the name Brian Johnston is largely remembered for Test Match Special and Down your Way. However as both of these programmes happened after he retired as a BBC staff member in 1972 they have overshadowed a fascinating television and radio career starting in the late forties.

In those early years Brian's BBC contract was marked 'SNF' - 'Staff No Fee'. This meant he could be booked by any BBC radio or TV programme for no extra fee because he was on a salary. It is these fascinating engagements which will be explored in this programme.

On In Town Tonight he rode bareback on a circus horse, was attacked by a police dog, busked in the street, was shaved onstage by the Crazy Gang and hid inside a pillar box. He commentated on King George VI's funeral, the Coronation, the Boat Race, the Festival of Britain and the Monte Carlo Rally - as well as appearing on Hancock's Half Hour, quizzes, children's TV and much more.

Brian's interview list includes such names as Field Marshall Montgomery, Bernard Delfont, Donald Campbell, Donald Bradman, Bobby Charlton and Henry Cooper.

His son and presenter of this programme Barry Johnston has been collecting and preserving archive clips along with his father's own scrapbooks and press cuttings and we will hear recordings from the great man himself along with gaining a unique insight into a slice of broadcasting history.

Produced by Stephen Garner

  • The early years:

    The early years:

    Brian Johnston tells listeners what it feels like to be attacked by a police-trained dog

  • Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II : 1953

    Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II : 1953

    Bernard Braden and Brian Johnston, television commentators in Hyde Park following the procession on a monitor.

  • Brian Johnston Centenary

    Brian Johnston Centenary

    On BBC Radio 4 Extra, to mark Brian Johnston's centenary, Rory Bremner hosts the three hour special - "An Innings With Johnners".

    Including; Summers Will Never Be The Same, Trivia Test Match, Hancock's Half Hour, Johnners Down Your Way, Twenty Questions, and The End of the Innings.

    This Saturday 23rd June at 0900 and repeated at 1900

    An Innings With Johnners on BBC Radio 4 Extra


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