Roger Moffat

Roger Moffat

Roger Moffat became an announcer with the British Forces Network, Graz, Austria in 1947. He spotted a notice on the camp board which asked for personnel with broadcasting experience to apply for a post with B.F.N. Says Roger: “I thought I would apply. Mind you, the only microphone I had ever seen was at a village hall and then I’d never spoken into one. Really I bluffed my way into B.F.N. I made up a lot of stories about my imaginary radio career, filled in the necessary forms and I was accepted. I knew the Army wouldn’t check because they are too…! I later became Senior Announcer — mind you, there were only two of us”.

Roger Moffat was demobbed in 1948 and returned to England and joined Radio Luxembourg in their London offices as the Continuity Script Writer.

He stayed with the station for six months and then decided to take up agriculture instead, as he couldn’t see any future in radio. He went to work on several farms which was followed by a course at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

Roger goes on, “One afternoon I had a phone-call from Radio Luxembourg who asked me to fly out to the Grand Duchy the following day and join the staff as an announcer. So I flung ‘my plough’ on one side and caught the first train to London and then literally leapt into an aircraft bound for Luxembourg. I remained with ‘208’ for six months and when I set my mind on London, Pete Murray (then unknown) was chosen as my successor. I applied for a job to the BBC and they sent me on a fortnight’s course for announcer training. At the end of it I was told that ‘I would never make an announcer in a million years’. But by coincidence the BBC were, at that time, very short of ‘voices’ and I was asked to go to Manchester as summer relief for a fortnight. I stayed there not fourteen days, but fourteen years”.

With the BBC in the North Region, Roger introduced every conceivable kind of broadcast, ranging from classical concerts to record request shows and from church services to military brass band concerts. Other sections took in the news, both on sound and television. He was the regular presenter of ‘Melody on the Line’, ‘Workers Playtime’ and the Al Read Show.

Roger’s claim to fame was ‘Make Way for Music’ which began as a radio series and later ended up as one of the most popular series on television. This was a band show featuring the Northern Dance Orchestra, conducted by Alyn Ainsworth and songs presented by Sheila Buxton. Roger’s off-beat approach brought him millions of new fans.

‘Make Way for Music’ is still talked about especially the television shows. Originally it was planned for a weeks ‘fill-in’ but so many hundred of letters were received that it was retained for three months, then another three. The series ran on television for almost four years.

“On our first show, the orchestra were all in braces — there was no scenery — and everyone was all over the place. We went on the air and I decided to eat fish and chips with Sheila Buxton on a park bench. The BBC were not amused, but the viewers loved it.”

Other highlights in the television series included the time when Roger actually blew up the television studio and caused havoc both on and off the screen.

Roger Moffat and Great Uncle Bulgaria

ROGER MOFFAT alias SUPERWOMBLE

Norman George headed the string section of the Northern Dance Orchestra and each week Roger grabbed his violin and smashed it into hundreds of pieces during transmission. One week it was decided to do a ‘send-up’ of Max Jaffa and his Trio. Roger was the cellist. The producer phoned the local second hand shop where they used to buy the duff violins and asked instead for a cello. The show went on the air live. Norman George this time got hold of Roger’s cello jumped on it and broke it into many hundreds of pieces. A few minutes later, a rather bewildered shopkeeper phoned and said I didn’t realise you were going to break the cello. It was worth £200!

The ‘Make Way for Music’ production team paid up and all was well.

Roger also appeared in the successful television series featuring Pinky and Perky.

He left Manchester in 1965 and moved to London as an announcer with the BBC. During his stay he has introduced ‘Music Through Midnight’, ‘Roundabout’, ‘Night Ride’ and the usual programmes which continuity announcers present.

On more than one occasion Roger’s tongue has got him into trouble. During a dance band programme Mr. Moffat, trying to find something new to say about the song ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’, announced “Someone once said it is better to give than to receive, or something like that, can’t think who it was. Anyway he’s bound to be dead by now and probably you’ve never heard of him — or want to”.

The phones never stopped ringing and the letters poured in. Words to the effect that ‘it is better to give than receive’ were said by one Jesus Christ!

Roger remembers another story connected with ‘Make Way for Music’. Some fifteen minutes before going on the air live, he received a telephone call from one of our premier Dukes who explained that he had a young nephew and niece in a stately home who were ardent fans of the programme and always listened to it when having their lunch in the nursery. However, on that particular Friday, the Duke and Duchess were entertaining the Queen and other members of the Royal Family to lunch and the two children were ‘commanded’ to attend.

“They flatly refused to miss the broadcast,” His Grace informed me, and would I speak to them, and see if I could persuade them what an honour it was to have lunch with the Queen. But to no avail. ‘Make Way for Music’ took preference, even over Her Majesty! In the end, I understand a compromise was reached. The children would lunch with the Royal party providing they could have their radio on as well! And that, as far as I know, is what happened. It was a great temptation to mention this on the programme, but the Duke asked me not to. I was dying to start the programme with ‘Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Graces, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen — Make Way for Music’. Perhaps it’s just as well I didn’t’.”

In January 1968 Roger took over as compere of the Joe Loss Show, which was followed by the ‘Billy Ternent Show’ and another spell on ‘Night Ride’.

Roger joined the BBC on July 25th, 1951 and was ‘fired’ for being ‘totally irresponsible’ just 20 years later — his birthday, July 25th, 1971. Quotes Roger, “Normally when a member of staff is fired for being totally irresponsible, he is dismissed immediately. However, because I had been with the BBC for 20 years they gave me six months notice, finally winding up with a six hour show on Boxing Night 1971— six hours to myself with no producer, no secretary, no no-body! So I was totally irresponsible to the end.”

The week after Roger had been fired by the BBC, he was back again with a twenty-one week series on Saturday lunchtime with the BBC Radio Orchestra featuring well-known singing stars and personalities. His voice was also heard quite regularly on television both in comedy shows and on television commercials.

Roger Moffat joined Radio Hallam on July 1st, 1974 and can be heard regularly between 9 a.m./12 noon each week day.

He was the main commentator during The Queen’s visit to Sheffield in July 1975.

1975 ● THIS IS TRANSDIFFUSION