Michael Barratt recalls broadcasting career

Former Panorama and Nationwide presenter Michael Barratt is to look back at his career in a new book that is briming with legendary names and stories from the pioneering years of television.

“In a TV and radio career as eclectic as the pioneering current affairs show he’s best remembered for, British broadcasting icon Michael Barratt scoured the world for scoops when journalism was still an adventure and interviewed everyone from prime ministers and public enemies to puppets and skateboarding ducks.” – publishers Kaleidoscope.

Barratt was born in Leeds in 1928. After being educated at Rossall School near Fleetwood, Lancashire, and at Paisley Grammar School in Scotland, he entered the world of journalism at 16, working for Scottish tabloid the Sunday Mail. Following a spell on sister paper the Daily Record he moved to Nigeria to be editor of the Nigerian Citizen and to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service.

Following his return to the UK, he worked as a production journalist on several English regional newspapers including the Wolverhampton Express & Star, Wolverhampton Chronicle and Loughborugh Monitor, while also contributing to the BBC’s Midlands regional current affairs magazine Scan and the BBC’s African Service. His work for the BBC led him to become a reporter on the BBC current affairs programme Panorama, then 24 Hours.

“Now 84 and still going strong, the much-loved presenter of BBC’s quirky news programme Nationwide recalls in a new ‘warts and all’ autobiography the roller-coaster reporting career that made him as much a household name as the myriad politicians, members of royalty, sporting heroes and celebrities he encountered for a living, and which also led to unlikely appearances in cult comedy shows and films.” – publishers Kaleidoscope.

He was presenter of Nationwide from 1969 to 1977 and was also chairman of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time from 1973 to 1979. He then moved to Thames TVs Reporting London and formed his own successful commercial video production company, Michael Barratt Limited, until 1997. He has appeared, as himself, in both films and television, including the movie The Magic Christian and The Goodies. In 1972 he was elected Rector of the University of Aberdeen.

Mr Nationwide — just released through Kaleidoscope Publishing — is packed with famous names and colourful anecdotes, and takes readers from Yorkshire-born Michael’s beginnings as a cub right through to his most recent work in commercial video and media coaching.

Working on Panorama saw him rub shoulders with broadcasting legend Richard Dimbleby which helped the young journalist to overcome his natural shyness and do whatever it took to get the story, even if that cost him a spell or two in foreign jails.

Moving on to 24 Hours with Cliff Michelmore in the early sixties, Michael become the first reporter from the West to enter Cuba after the Castro revolution, and also undertook unnerving interviews with notorious East End gangsters such as The Kray Twins and Michael X. After cutting his teeth on these flagships shows, Michael was chosen in 1969 to launch Nationwide, the hugely-popular magazine programme that combined political discussion and consumer affairs, light entertainment and sports reporting.

At its peak Nationwide would attract an audience of up to eleven million viewers every weekday evening at 6pm, and would make Michael one of the country’s biggest broadcasting personalities. During these heady years, Michael also presented shows such as Songs of Praise, could be caught on crazy comedy series The Goodies interviewing Sooty and hitting people with a black pudding. Indeed, the Nationwide anchor proved so popular that when he decided to leave the show in 1977, to marry his second wife, Dilys, he was sent by the BBC on a farewell tour of the UK aboard an especially-hired train.

“Having lost none of his celebrated skills for sharing a story in compelling fashion, Michael uses Mr Nationwide to look back at an amazing seven-decade journalistic career with refreshing honesty, intelligence and humour. The sometimes painfully frank account of successes and failures — both professional and personal — gives readers a fascinating insight into his incredible life and offers a rare glimpse into the workings of a media world long since vanished.” – publishers Kaleidoscope.

Mr Nationwide by Michael Barratt (Kaleidoscope Publishing, 110pp) is out now in paperback, priced £9.99. Visit www.kaleidoscopepublishing.co.uk

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