Edward Barnes obituary

Edward Barnes obituary

Edward Barnes’s biggest innovation, earlier than he grew to become head of BBC tv kids’s programmes from 1978 till 1986, lay in creating Newsround. He launched the information programme for younger viewers in 1972, after discovering that solely 0.7% of his goal age group watched TV information: “It was a person in a swimsuit, speaking, and it was boring,” he mentioned.He put John Craven, dressed casually in a sweater, within the presenter’s chair, initially for a six-week experiment, and the programme went on to develop into a BBC establishment, even breaking main worldwide information tales such because the disintegration of the area shuttle Challenger in 1986.Barnes, who has died aged 92 after contracting Covid-19, additionally made a major, long-lasting contribution as a kind of who is likely to be described as a godparent to Blue Peter, which was launched in 1958. He was an occasional ground supervisor throughout the present’s first 4 years because it sailed uneven waters with the departure of two presenters and its unique producer. Caretaker producers tried to regular the ship whereas the search went on for a everlasting alternative in 1962.Barnes, then engaged on different BBC programmes as a manufacturing assistant, was turned down for the function. Biddy Baxter, who landed the job, needed to serve three months’ discover in her BBC radio producer’s job, and fought off a suggestion that Barnes ought to produce Blue Peter till her arrival, involved that he wouldn’t need to give option to “a woman from radio”. As a substitute, Leonard Chase assumed the momentary function, with Barnes helping him, and employed Valerie Singleton to current alongside Christopher Hint.John Craven presenting Newsround. {Photograph}: BBCWhen Baxter took over, Barnes continued as assistant producer and directed the programme. His and Baxter’s wariness of one another evaporated and collectively – with Rosemary Gill as researcher – they moulded Blue Peter right into a programme that grew to become important viewing for kids.Baxter noticed the involvement of viewers as the important thing to this, introducing “makes” – objects created out of family supplies – and annual appeals, and inspiring kids to jot down in with concepts and tales by rewarding them with the well-known Blue Peter badge. Barnes thought the programme ought to have its personal distinctive emblem, so Tony Hart was commissioned to design the galleon emblem, which featured on the badge.The thought of getting a Blue Peter pet got here from Barnes’s spouse, Dorothy, who scripted image tales and different objects for the present. Sadly, the mongrel chosen and launched to viewers simply earlier than Christmas 1962 died of distemper two days later.The Blue Peter presenters of 1979. {Photograph}: ANL/Shutterstock“We’ll must get a substitute,” mentioned Barnes. “The pet’s solely been seen as soon as. There’s no level in upsetting kids needlessly.” In freezing snow, he and Baxter drove round London pet outlets in his Mini and located a lookalike in Lewisham. Viewers voted to call her Petra, the feminine type of Peter, and he or she grew to become the primary in an extended line of Blue Peter pets.In 1964, the present elevated from one to 2 episodes every week and added John Noakes alongside Hint and Singleton. The next yr, when Baxter was made the present’s editor – a brand new title – Barnes and Gill grew to become producers. Barnes was an awesome defender of his boss, who held an authoritarian grip on the present. He insisted that if, in her quest for perfection, she was ruthless, it was “on behalf of the viewers”.Collectively, in addition they staged a fightback when, in 1964, BBC tv’s kids’s division misplaced its autonomy, and a brand new “household division” was shaped out of kids’s and girls’s programmes. “We felt betrayed by the BBC,” mentioned Barnes, “and we thought, ‘We’ll present them’. We needed to offer the administration a black eye.” Blue Peter and Play College have been on the forefront of the battle and the kids’s division was restored three years later.Sustaining his affiliation with the present after leaving to develop into the BBC’s assistant head of kids’s programmes (1970-78), Barnes produced Blue Peter Royal Safari (1971), with Singleton accompanying Princess Anne on a tour of Kenyan wildlife parks. He additionally created and produced Blue Peter Particular Task (1973-81), that includes journeys to cities, islands, homes and rivers, initially as a car for Singleton after she left the programme.As deputy to Monica Sims, he created Report Breakers (1972-2001) and Go With Noakes (1976-80) and ruffled some institution feathers by commissioning Grange Hill (1978-2008), the cleaning soap producer Phil Redmond’s warts-and-all drama about life in a complete faculty. Different reveals he oversaw or commissioned after taking up from Sims in 1978 included Rentaghost (1976-84), Multi-Colored Swap Store (1976-82), Suppose Once more (1981-85), with Johnny Ball, Grandad (1979-84), starring Clive Dunn, Postman Pat (1981-96) and Henry’s Cat (1983-93).Edward Barnes in 1966 throughout his time as a producer on Blue Peter. {Photograph}: ANL/ShutterstockIn 1985, after Grange Hill had lined such points as bullying, being pregnant and shoplifting, he endorsed a storyline a few pupil hooked on heroin, saying: “We now have a accountability to our viewers to warn them in regards to the hazard of onerous medication.” Barnes additionally negotiated the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia (1988-90).He was born in Wigan, Lancashire (now a part of Better Manchester), to Mabel (nee Latham), a nurse and midwife, and Hubert Barnes, the music critic of the Wigan Observer and an novice actor. He left faculty at 14 and, after performing in repertory theatre, he was an announcer with the British Forces Community in Vienna (1946-49), then a stage supervisor in theatres, nonetheless performing often.He appeared on BBC tv in The Passing Present: Our Marie (1953), a biopic of the music-hall star Marie Lloyd, and performed Melchior in Away in a Manger, a 1954 kids’s nativity. He then joined the BBC as an assistant ground supervisor in 1955, when he additionally briefly offered the Gentle Programme radio present Housewives’ Selection.Following his early retirement in 1986, Barnes returned to programme-making, producing Treasure Homes (1987) and directing All Our Youngsters (1990).He and Baxter wrote the guide Blue Peter: The Inside Story, revealed in 1989.Dorothy (nee Smith), whom Barnes married in 1950, died in 1992. He’s survived by their son, Simon, and two daughters, Rachel and Julia.Anthony HaywardJeremy Swan writes: Monica Sims was a tough act to comply with as head of BBC kids’s programmes. However Edward Barnes was greater than succesful – his early years because the stage supervisor on the Pigalle Membership in London had ready him for something. Heads of departments in tv needed to be nice encouragers; they have been frequently nurturing the inventive skills of employees whose temperaments have been typically eccentric.Edward was a superb head of kids’s programmes. He instigated and inspired reveals that he knew can be good for the viewers and he administrated with knowledge and humour. His workplace in BBC Tv Centre’s East Tower was dominated by a big palm tree and a giant poster for the Penang railway. He was very hooked up to the far east.His house life was as inventive as his job. His spouse, Dorothy, was a author and his kids have been gifted in journalistic and literary fields. Edward effected a cheerful Mephistophelean look – his beard, fedora hats and flowing scarves all including to his impresario persona. He relinquished his put up in 1986 and was succeeded by Anna Dwelling for whom he labored as a producer, a task he stuffed with panache and gusto. Herbert Edward Campbell Barnes, tv government and producer, born 8 October 1928; died 7 September 2021

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