Isn’t it surprising who’s from Liverpool eh? I bet most people wouldn’t guess that Tom Baker is from Liverpool. Or the other scouse Doctor Who, Paul McGann. Just a couple of weeks ago we remarked that Clive Barker’s Liverpool heritage is rarely acknowledged.
I didn’t know that Robert Robinson was from Liverpool – and there was nothing in that clipped, precise RP accent to indicate otherwise, though he moved away from the city as a child.
Robinson’s was one of a number of voices, many of whom are now sadly departed, that formed a comforting, familiar soundtrack to my youth.
A youth spent in cars, when Test Match Special and Brian Johnston would hold court; a youth getting ready for school when Brian Redhead was on Today; a youth at my Grandparent’s house at dinnertime when Robinson would host Brain of Britain; Sunday mornings of Roy Plumley; Sunday afternoons of Clay Jones.
The fourth movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik signalled the start; Robinson’s precise voice, like a haughty, middle-class and slightly testy spectacled sparrow coming next. And then the contestants, always introduced formally, as if Robinson was a bank manager and Mr Jenkins had come to see about a loan.
No-one ever ever seemed to get anything right in Brain of Britain. Robinson often seemed very slightly impatient with incorrect answers, but seemed to delight in a rare moment of success or an unlikely guess.
There’s something wonderfully timeless about Radio 4 and stuff like Brain of Britain, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Just A Minute and a dozen others.
And it’s tempting to imagine that if I tuned into Radio 4 tomorrow lunchtime Robinson would be there asking questions of Mr Jones and Mrs Hall about the difference between Doric and Ionic columns.
Ah, would that it were…