Stephen Williams

Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
27 Aug 1991
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

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Interview notes


Born London 1908. Talks about his father, a parish priest in the East End of London. Went to Cambridge to study theology, but didn’t take to it.


He talks about how he got involved with radio, then worked as a journalist, dealing with radio affairs, first with the Daily News, then with the Sunday Referee, which was now owned by the Ostrer brothers. From here he went to Fécamp to set up Radio-Normandie [later Radio Normandy], after which he went to Radio Paris and then to set up Radio Luxembourg. He talks in some detail about Luxembourg and on the outbreak of war he returned to the UK and tried to join the BBC, who wouldn’t have him. However, through the family friendship with Sir Seymour Hicks, he entered ‘through the back door’ via ENSA,[ Entertainment National Services Association] as its Broadcasting Officer. He talks about his various productions during the War Years.


He continues to talk about his war-time experiences, the finding of Petula Clark [on Variety Bandbox]. He was asked to go to television to take over the producing of Picture Page; he wasn’t keen, but was prevailed upon and went. He didn’t enjoy it and finally asked to radio production and for 16 years produced Have a Go, with Wilfred Pickles (no mean feat), and when that show was off the air he took over Down Your Way.


He continues to talk about Down Your Way and then some more war-time experiences. He then moved to Radio Enterprises, where he joined his old friend Rooney Pelletier. He produced the disc which won a Golden Disc [?] and he tells how the then Director-General received it.


NB There is a PDF file attached in the biographical section which is a lengthy note which Alan Lawson identifies as being compiled by Cecil Madden for an unrealised project, shortly before his death.


Stephen Williams.  (31 March 1908 - 23 November 1994) was one of Europe's pioneering commercial radio broadcasters. He was born in Hackney London and was educated at St Pauls, Trinity College, Cambridge.

He was  keen wireless enthusiast. "I was able to listen proudly to the debut of the BBC on 14 November 1922, and from the moment I heard the announcer say "This is 2LO calling, 2LO, the London station of the British Broadcasting Company", I was seized with an ambition to have a job like his."

During a break from college in 1928, Stephen landed a job as an announcer with the broadcasting yacht  “Ceto";  an early attempt at offshore commercial radio.

 In December 1933 he became the first English radio presenter at Radio Luxembourg as well as serving as manager of the station. 

He joined the BBC in 1950 and  became  Senior Producer of Outside Broadcasts. His most well known achievement was the BBC radio series “ Have A Go “ with Wilfred Pickles which he  produced for about 15 years from November, 1953

When Radio Luxembourg eventually closed at the end of 1991, the last words were those of Stephen Williams, "Good Luck, Good Listening.. and Goodbye".

As recognition of his contribution towards establishing closer links between Luxembourg and Britain, he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg in 1992.