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Early BBC local radio

The eastern end of Church Street in November 1972, when the corner building at the junction with Marlborough Place was the headquarters of Radio Brighton.
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Live in February 1968

BBC Radio Brighton was one of the first wave of BBC Local Radio stations. It broadcast on 88.1 MHz VHF only. The station broadcast only for limited daytime hours in its early years, relying on Radio 2 and Radio 4 for sustaining the service. The transmission area was initially restricted to little more than the immediate Brighton and Hove and the surrounding suburbs. Though a short-lived emergency service had been broadcast during the blizzards earlier that winter, the station went live on the air on the 14th of February 1968.

Opened by Laurence Oliver

I introduced Laurence Olivier to officiate at the grand opening of the station. Before he went on air he gargled, sang la, la, la and coughed like he was going on stage to play Hamlet. He then official opened the station. My next guests were Elsie and Doris Waters who were sisters of Horace John Waters better known as Jack Warner of Dixon of Dock Green fame. Gert and Daisy were the two characters they played that formed a British female comedy act, particularly remembered for their contribution to film and radio entertainment during World War II. These guests were chosen because they lived locally.

Do you remember the early years of Radio Brighton? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Not Radio Caroline!

Before the grand opening Bob had asked me to compile a music programme to last two hours. I did not tell anyone what I had decided to do. My show came on the airwaves giving a full blast pop programme. After I came off air Bob Gunnell, the station manager, summoned me into his office and told me that it was be the first and last pop programme the station would broadcast. He was as good as his word.  At that time a young 19 year boy, Phil Fothergill, was listening to my show with great expectations. His one ambition was to get into radio. At the end of my programme he thought ‘Wow! We got our own Radio Caroline!’  How wrong he was, as he soon found out, with Bob having control over the station.

Comments about this page

  • For its day, ‘Gert and Daise’ was quite a sophisticated act, and made a change from the usual red-nosed comics. They basically had a conversation over the fence (real or imaginary) about current events, and mixed in a bit of domestic humour involving their husbands’ nasty habits or laziness. Very gentle stuff, but rather effective. I usually listened to them on the radio, but I suppose funny women didn’t go down too well on TV in the ’50s, which makes the success of a vent act like Peter Brough and Archie Andrews, both on TV and ‘steam’ radio, even more bizarre!
    I didn’t know the Waters sisters lived in Brighton, but Sir Lawrence gargling paints an interesting picture!

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (07/07/2014)
  • You might be interested to know that Elsie & Doris Waters had a small shop in Steyning High Street. My Auntie May was a “champion” at knitting. She also lived in Steyning, knew them very well, and knitted many jumpers and cardigans for them to sell in their shop.

    By Peter Guy (09/07/2014)
  • For anyone interested, there are lots of Gert and Daise artefacts at the Steyning Museum.

    By Suzie S (10/07/2014)

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