I first started listening to Ray when he presented the Late Show on Saturday nights. Like many listeners I was immediately taken in by Ray’s quirky sense of humour, his wonderful turn of phrase and those invitations to join him in his nightclub of the air ‘Chez Ray’.
I then followed Ray to the Early Show (see this post) where he amused us with his talk of the goings on at the BBC, problems at Gatport Airwick and on the rattlers and tales of the Radio 3 announcers of ‘Tarmac Rigby’ and ‘Miss Hughes’.
Ray’s broadcasting career started in the 60s at Granada television where he was a young newsreader and announcer, working on the likes of What the Papers Say and University Challenge. He had a brief spell as an in-vision announcer at ATV in Birmingham before returning to Manchester to work for the BBC.
Based at the BBC’s studios in Piccadilly he worked on both tv and radio before getting his network break hosting Pop North for the Light Programme (and later on Radio 1). When Radios 1 and 2 started in late 1967 Ray headed off to Broadcasting House and started a wide and varied career on the radio networks.
Ray could be heard reading the news on Radio’s 1 & 2 as well as doing the odd announcing spot on Radio’s 3 &4. He was an early Breakfast Special presenter from the off but would often pop up on other programmes on both 1 & 2 within the same week.
Amongst the shows that Ray presented are Melody Fair, Coming Home, Stage One, Night Ride, After Seven, Ray Moore’s Saturday Night, Dancing to Midnight, The Saturday Morning Show, The Late Show, Sammes’ Songs, String Sound, Banners and Bonnets, The Eurovision Song Contest, Pop Score and The Monday Movie Quiz.
Of course Ray is best known for his stints on the Early Show. Writing about this in his autobiography he said “my theory, if I ever had one, was that this show, broadcast at such a crazy time could only be successful if it were based on one assumption: that nobody in his or her right mind would choose to be up at such an awful hour. If we both had to be awake so early, I thought, let’s agree one thing: that it’s you and me against the world”
Ray had to step down from the Early Show on 28 January 1988 when cancer of the mouth meant he couldn’t continue. He died a year later on 11 January 1989.
I recall quite clearly hearing about the news of Ray’s death. By sheer coincidence I was on a training course in Manchester and staying at a hotel on Piccadilly Gardens, literally just round the corner from where Ray started with the BBC.
Here's a short audio tribute to Ray with clips from his shows in the late 70s and early 80s and a BBC tv trail from 1982.
Here are three extracts from The Early Show, firstly 29 May 1981:
This from 10 December 1982:
Finally 18 February 1985:
Finally 18 February 1985:
Pop Score had been running on Radio 2 since 1972 and was chaired by Pete Murray. By the time series 11 started Ray was hosting, here’s the edition broadcast on Tuesday 7 May 1985. Following Ray’s death Ken Bruce took over as chair.
Another fixture of the early 80s schedules was The Monday Movie Quiz in which Ray gave away “cash voucher” prizes for identifying film clips and actors. This show was broadcast on 28 February 1983
Following Ray’s death Radio 2 broadcast a tribute programme presented by Ken Bruce. This show aired on 29 January 1989.
By March 1989 the BBC had organised a celebration of Ray's life and career that was broadcast live from All Souls' Church in Langham Place. This extract includes addresses from Terry Wogan, Colin Berry and David Hatch as well as a performance from the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, whom Ray had introduced in concert a number of times of the years.