Robert Dougall

Robert Dougall

Robert Dougall MBE (27 November 1913 - 19 December 1999) was a British broadcaster and ornithologist, mainly known as a newsreader and announcer.

Early life and radio broadcasting

Dougall was born and educated in the London borough of Croydon. He attended Whitgift School but did not carry on to university despite having some talent in languages, specifically French and German. He joined the BBC initially in the accounts department, but soon found a job as an announcer for the "Empire Service" (later renamed BBC World Service) on his 21st birthday in 1934. By 1939, he had risen to the position of senior announcer and his was the voice that announced Britain's declaration of war on Germany to the world in September of that year. Shortly before this announcement, he had transmitted a message as an "anonymous" Englishman (although speaking in German), imploring Germany to withdraw its forces and avert the impending conflict:

"I got the first page with about three minutes to go. Then, the red light came on and it was up to me. It was an intensely dramatic script and most of the pages were fed to me at the microphone, so I had to get it right first time. God knows I put my heart into it."

Dougall worked as a radio reporter during the early part of the Second World War, but also served with the Royal Navy from 1942. He resumed his broadcasting work after demobilisation in 1946 as an announcer and newsreader for the BBC Home Service. In 1947, Dougall was appointed Programme Manager for the BBC's Far Eastern Service, a position which required him to move to Singapore.

Television news

Dougall's radio work took a back seat when he returned to London in 1951 to work as a television newsreader (he is thought to be the only person from the BBC's early radio service who had an enduring career in television.) Between 1946 and 1955, the BBC news was merely voiced over a photograph of Big Ben, a measure sanctioned by Chief News Editor Tahu Hole to reinforce the absolute impartiality the Corporation was renowned for. However, the arrival of ITN in 1955 prompted the BBC to have its newsreaders perform to camera - indeed, they began this approach only three weeks before ITN began transmission. Dougall was among the first of these newsreaders to appear in-vision in 1955 (the others were his contemporaries Kenneth Kendall, Michael Aspel and Richard Baker with Kendall being the very first).Dougall presented general BBC news reports and the "Newsroom" programme during the 1960s and was awarded the MBE in 1965, receiving his honour on the same day as The Beatles. He was the first person to present the long-running BBC Nine O'Clock News in 1970, continuing in this role until his retirement from the newsroom in 1973. According to "The Times" he was probably paid about 100 pounds a week before his retirement. Dougall felt that there were too many programmes analysing the news: "There has to be self-criticism but it becomes destructive after a while. There is just too much of it and people get depressed."


Like Peter Woods, Dougall was considered an archetypal newsreader and frequently appeared as himself in comedy programmes of the 1970s and early 1980s, including "The Goodies" and "Yes Minister". He also presented seven series of Channel 4's over-60s programme, "Years Ahead" over four years and appeared in an advertising campaign for the jewellers "Preston's of Bolton" during the 1980s.

Dougall was also known for his love of animals and birds and he was president of the RSPB for a five-year period. He wrote several books about birds in the 1970s and an autobiography, "In and Out of the Box," in 1973. Robert lived in Walberswick in Suffolk though his main home for many years was in Hampstead in London.


Dougall's granddaughter Rose is a singer/songwriter, formerly with Brighton band The Pipettes.Dougall's grandson Tom Dougall is a guitarist with Brighton band Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong.


*"In and out of the box" (1973) ISBN 000272703x
*"Now for the good news" (1976) ISBN 0264663799
*"A Celebration of Birds", Collins and Harvill Press (1978) ISBN 0002621134
*"The Ladybird Book Of British Birds"
*"Basil Ede's Birds", Severn House (1980) ISBN 0727820052
**foreword by The Duke of Edinburgh
*"Birdwatch Round Britain" with Herbert Axell, Collins and Harvill (1982) ISBN 0002622564
**foreword by Ian Prestt


*"An Introduction To Bird and Wildlife Photography In Still and Movie", Marchington, John and Clay, Anthony, Faber & Faber (1974) - Foreword.


External links

* [ BBC obituary]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Robert the Bruce — Robert Bruce redirects here. For other uses, see Robert Bruce (disambiguation). The Bruce redirects here. For other uses, see Bruce (disambiguation). Robert I King of Scots Reign 1306–1329 Coronation …   Wikipedia

  • Robert Waseige — (* 26. August 1939 in Rocourt) ist ein belgischer Fußball Manager und ehemaliger Fußballprofi. Er war Trainer der belgischen Nationalmannschaft während der Fußball Europameisterschaft 2000 und führte Belgien zur zweiten Runde bei der Fußball… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Rose Elinor Dougall — Infobox musical artist Name = Rose Dougall Img capt = Img size = 200 Landscape = Background = group or band Alias = Origin = Brighton, England, UK Genre = Indie, Pop Years active = 2003 present Associated acts = The Pipettes URL = Current members …   Wikipedia

  • Michael Dougall Bell — Canada Ambassador to Jordan In office 1987–1990 Preceded by Gary Richard Harman Succeeded by …   Wikipedia

  • BBC News — This article is about the organisation within the BBC. For the television channel, see BBC News (TV channel). For other uses, see BBC News (disambiguation). BBC News BBC News logo Type Department of the BBC Industry …   Wikipedia

  • Whitgift School — For the comprehensive school, see Whitgift School, Grimsby Whitgift School Motto Vincit qui patitur ( He who endures, wins ) Established 1596 …   Wikipedia

  • BBC Nine O'Clock News — Format News, Business, Sport, Weather Created by BBC News Presented by …   Wikipedia

  • List of former BBC newsreaders and journalists — The BBC has employed many journalists and newsreaders to present its news programmes as well as to provide news reports and interviews. The following list, dated December 2007, names individuals who no longer employed by the BBC in its news… …   Wikipedia

  • Francis Crick — Infobox Scientist name = Francis Harry Compton Crick |225px image width = 225px caption = Francis Harry Compton Crick birth date = 8 June 1916 birth place = Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England residence = UK, U.S. nationality = British death …   Wikipedia

  • List of The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968) episodes — This is an episode summary of British TV comedy show The Morecambe Wise Show. The nine series of 50 minute programmes produced between 1968 and 1976 by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise are generally considered to be their best output; all penned by… …   Wikipedia