Baker’s Dozen


© BBC                                                           Richard Baker in news reading days

The solemnly urbane Richard Baker died on Saturday. I heard this sad news first at Eleven o’clock and every subsequent bulletin caught throughout the day.

For a woman of my generation he was indeed a News Reader and a Proms man. More piquantly though, he – and this wasn’t mentioned at all – was the idiosyncratic choice for his steadiness to tell the thirteen stories of Mary, Mungo & Midge.

© Estate of John Ryan                                     Mungo and Midge returning

Children’s telly in the early Seventies mebbie lacked the in-ya-faceness which obtains today yet seemed to me to require viewer participation in the action, agreeing somehow to allow the spell to be cast.

Richard Baker’s delivery was essential in the conveyance to his wide-eyed audience of the weird reality of high-rise living. In virtue of his baritones, we sat clamped in wonder at the mysteries of the wider world.

The series was conjured up by Captain Pugwash creator, John Ryan and was oft repeated, thus having a life long after its natural end … and still able to surprise. I got real shock seeking out an illustration: the series was in colour. It was a different world.

A news reader to the last, it appears he informed, educated and entertained his fellow care-home residents with headline cuttings once the sun hove past the yard-arm each evening. This strikes one as joyous, benign and mirthful; a glorious rounding of a well-lived life.

God speed, Richard Baker.

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