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Not Pete Atkin >> Off-topic >> Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
(Message started by: Kevin Cryan on Today at 07:09)

Title: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by Kevin Cryan on Today at 07:09
I'm greatly saddened, as I'm sure many of this parish will be,  to read in today's edition of The Guardian that Steve Race, best remembered as the wittily erudite chairman of BBC Radio 4's and later BBC 2's My Music , died (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/24/obituary-steve-race)on the 22nd of June 2009.

It's tempting to suggest that with his going we have lost a particular kind of broadcaster one who is more knowledgeable than he needed to be for the kind of job he was doing but this is to forget that it's because of what Race and his kind did in the past,  television and radio commissioning editors can find places in their schedules for broadcasters like Stephen Fry and programmes like QI.

Kevin Cryan

Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by Mike Walters on 27.06.09 at 10:40
There was a very nice little additional tribute to Steve Race from Pete in yesterday's Guardian.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be available on-line, unless someone's more adept at finding it than I am.  

Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by Jan on 28.06.09 at 01:40
I couldn't find it on the Guardian website but it is available through the newspaper subscription services:

Pete Atkin writes : I first met Steve Race (obituary, 24 June) in 1981 when I became producer of the Radio 4 programme My Music.

We used to record 26 programmes a year, half of them in conjunction with BBC television.

If he had ever fallen ill (which he never did) we would have needed three people to replace him - one to set the questions, one to act as chairman, and one to play the piano. It's doubtful if we could have found anyone to do any of the jobs as well as he did them.

Among the many things I learned from him was the selflessness which acknowledges that if there's a joke in the question, there's rarely a joke in the answer.

When the individual panellists sang a song at the end of each show, Frank Muir often needed a piano introduction that would guide him clearly to his starting note.

This didn't work infallibly, however, and I can remember more than once when Steve had to change key as Frank began to sing, only to have to change key back again as Frank found himself in the wrong part of his vocal range.

After I had left My Music I produced several features with him for Radio 4. One of these was a 45-minute programme with many inserted passages of archive recordings, pre-recorded readings, etc.

He wrote the script, and asked to hear the inserts as we recorded him, so he could adjust his tone and the timing if need be.

At the end it was one of the studio technicians - in those days there used to be more than one - who commented that Steve had neither fluffed nor paused, let alone needed a retake.

The programme was almost perfectly to time, and that it might as well have been live.


Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by naomi on 28.06.09 at 02:41
Thank you so much, Jan - and, of course, Pete ! - for those very touching recollections of Mr Race.


Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by Pete Atkin on 28.06.09 at 10:23
Yes, thanks, Jan.  That wasn't in my copy of Friday's paper, so I guess it got squeezed out of later editions by Michael Jackson coverage.  It is unsurprisingly a hugely - I mean, hugely - edited version of the paragraphs I bashed out quickly, but I'm pleased they gave Steve even that much extra space.

Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by Rob Spence on 28.06.09 at 10:45
Lovely to read those reminiscences. I used to enjoy My Music hugely (and My Word too), and I now realise that, in and amongst that gentle badinage was a great deal of solid information and opinion - I learned a lot about the kind of music that I would not normally have listened to back then. Steve Race was one of the last of that radio breed, wasn't he? I had the misfortune recently to catch the new version of Does the Team Think, hosted by Vic Reeves. The old version was firmly in the tradition of My Word / My Music, whereas this unremittingly boorish travesty was completely devoid of wit, and seems to have been conceived as yet another attempt to revive Reeves's failing career. I'm so pleased I can tune into BBC7, even if that does make me a digital dinosaur.

Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by S J Birkill on 29.06.09 at 21:42
Pete's unedited submission may be found here (http://www.peteatkin.com/steverace.htm).

Title: Re: Steve Race (1921 - 2009). R.I.P.
Post by Pete Atkin on 30.06.09 at 17:49
For what it's worth (we are in Off-topic, aren't we?), I just received this from the Grauniad.  Pretty decent of them to take the trouble, I thought.

"Thanks very much for your letter about Steve Race, into which you clearly put some care and thought. However, we used it very hastily and only in part -- it's no good me trying to fudge this -- in order to fill out a terrible hole in the spread we rejigged at 1.30am to get the Michael Jackson obit into our last edition. Having done that, it would be untidy and unsatisfactory to run it again, so I regret that it will have been seen by only part of our normal readership, and hope you may accept our apologies."

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