Aubrey Singer

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25 Nov 1993
26 Jan 1994
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Born Bradford, 1927; Bradford Grammar School. Joined GB Instructional Films as trainee Editor on £2 10 shillings [£2.50] a week, went to Africa for GBI in 1946-7. Returned and worked for Mary Field making children’s films as assistant to her. Had a board for BBC OB [Outside Broadcasts] Producer with the BBC in 1949, stayed with OBs then went to Scotland as OB Producer stayed 18 months, then got New York BBC representative’s job 1953-1956. He returned to OBs, then started to do science features. Made Assistant Head of OB Science Features. He talks about a programme he produced with Phil Daly on the Geophysical Year, then the satellite OBs for the European Broadcasting Union to the USA.


He continues to talk about Our World; he then goes on to talk about [Donald] Baverstock, Humphrey Burton and Michael Peacock deserting the BBC for commercial [television]. When that happened Huw Wheldon offered Singer ‘Head of Features 2’. Alasdair Milne returned to the BBC as Controller, BBC2. He talks about the financial side of TV; after six years he is offered MD [Managing Director] Radio, where he stayed 1978 to 1984. He said it was most exciting. He talks about the problems he had to face. Was called to a board for Director General, but Milne got that appointment. He became MD Television, working as Milne’s No 2. He relates the circumstances on how he was asked to take early retirement, and the final settlement he got. He then talks about the setting up of his own company White City Films Ltd., and the various ideas that didn’t reach fruition.


He says he became disillusioned with television as a recording medium – he says that film is much better. He goes back to talk about his departure from the BBC and how he was very upset by what happened. He then goes on to talk about the difficulties of making ‘co-productions’. He then goes back to talk about when he was Head of Features Group – they were heady days.


Science Features were closest to his heart, he says – he speaks of Phil Daly. He talks about his time as Controller of BBC2, in 1972 when Robin Scott left that post – then he became MD Television and he was far way from [making] programmes, then came MD Radio. He then goes on to talk about the ‘Yorkshire Influence’. He talks about Cecil McGivern. He relates an amusing story about when he was in the USA and was doing a live interview with Rogers and Hammerstein. He talks about Richard Dimbleby. He talks about the joys of travelling that he experienced during his career with the BBC, and finishes with  a poem he wrote about China (he is a Sinophile).



Aubrey Singer was a distinguished former Managing Director of both BBC Television and Radio.
 He joined the BBC in 1949.
Aubrey founded science programmes including Tomorrow's World and Horizon and led the modernisation of BBC Radio in the Seventies.
He spent much of his career at the BBC, and was Head of Science and Features for BBC TV in 1961 until 1974. During that time he was responsible for  popular high quality science programmes most notably the ‘Ascent of Man’ in 1973.; He was Controller of BBC Two from 1974 to 1978 and  was responsible for bringing classic dramas such as "I Claudius" to our screens. He was Managing Director of Radio from 1978 to 1982; and Managing Director of Television from 1982 to 1984. In 1984 he was awarded the CBE.
 He was Managing Director of White City Films until 1996.