BBC Essex’s celebrations to mark its 30th birthday are set to take place this weekend, marking its launch date of November 5th, 1986.
Highlights include a special two hour radio show reuniting seven former presenters, guest appearances by current BBC Essex presenters at five Fireworks spectaculars across the county and a look at how Essex has changed over the last 30 years.
First launched on 5th November, 1986, BBC Essex was the first BBC local not using “Radio” in its title, due mainly to the existance of the commercial station, Essex Radio. It also set out to have an up-beat sound and popular news style. The very first voices on the station were BBC Radio Two’s Alex Lester and travel news presenter Jane Kinghorn. Others to have worked at the station include Dermot O’Leary, BBC sports presenter Mark Pougatch, broadcaster James Whale, promoter Eric “Monster” Hall and MP Peter Heaton-Jones.
Highlights of the anniversary include:
Friday November 4
- The very first voices on BBC Essex – Alex Lester and Jane Kinghorn – are reunited, alongside the station’s first sports reporter Jonathan Overend, on the Breakfast Show
- BBC Essex Breakfast presenter Sadie Nine lights up the Basildon Round Table Fireworks Display at Basildon Sports and Leisure Club
- BBC Essex Facebook page features films of people who have been listening since the very first day
Saturday November 5
- Former presenters Peter Heaton-Jones, Bill Dod, Kara Tritton, Timbo, Eric Hall, David Whiteley and Etholle George are back for a special show celebrating 30 years of BBC Essex between 12 and 2pm. They talk about launch day and choose a song which reminds them of the time
- Breakfast presenter Sadie Nine presents the “Big Beach Bang’ Fireworks Spectacular at East Beach, Shoeburyness
- Eric Dixon, Liana Bridges, Barry Lewis and Questmaster from BBC Essex Quest attend the 2016 Chelmsford Fireworks at Admirals Park
- Presenters Steve Scruton and Ian Wyatt rocket into the Heathlands Firework Display at West Bergholt
- John Leech sets off the Maldon Fireworks in Promenade Park
In addition, presenters are reunited with the cars they drove 30 years ago, Robbie Barbour’s Show rewrites the lyrics to the Spitting Image song ‘Essex is Crap’ to show the county in a more flattering light and loyal listeners are urged to keep an ear out for a knock on the front door as there might be some surprise drop-ins…..
BBC Essex Facts:
- The first song played on BBC Essex was ‘We Built This City’ by Starship.
- Famous news stories covered by the station include Dale Farm Traveller Encampment, The death of Stuart Lubbock at Michael Barrymore’s house, the Jeremy Bamber murders and the defection of Douglas Carswell to UKIP
- One of the earliest reporters and then presenters was Peter Heaton-Jones. He is now the Conservative MP for North Devon
- Paddy O’Connell also worked at the station as a reporter. He now presents Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4
- One of BBC Essex’s most popular presenters was Tim Lloyd AKA Timbo. Timbo was with the station from the first day
- Music plugger and football agent Eric “Monster” Hall was also a BBC Essex presenter, exploiting his celebrity connections to host a specialist music programme with big name guests
- X-Factor star Dermot O’Leary is now one of the biggest names UK TV but he started his career making tea for the sports team at BBC Essex