Radio 4 listeners mourn as Green and Cass take redundancy

Sep 5, 2012

Were newsreaders Charlotte Green and Harriet Cass just too posh for today's BBC?


CHARLOTTE GREEN and Harriet Cass, two of BBC Radio 4's best-known voices, have announced that they will leave the network next year.

The two newsreaders are taking voluntary redundancy as the BBC cuts its announcing team from 12 to 10. Cass (left), 60, and Green (right), 56, have spent 74 years at the corporation between them, making them the network's two longest-serving announcers.

Not hearing Cass and Green will be like losing old friends, writes Vicky Frost in The Guardian. "For regular listeners, they have been talking to us for years - and we've been having an, admittedly one-sided, conversation with them for longer than some friendships even last."

The Guardian's Patrick Wintour was similarly lugubrious: "Stop all the clocks," he tweeted. "My noon, my midnight, etc. Harriet Cass and Charlotte Green quit BBC as news readers. The soundtrack of our lives."

Cass joined the BBC in 1972, working as a reporter from Westminster and producing Today in Parliament before being promoted to senior announcer.

"The BBC was my first job and I thought it would be interesting for a few months," she said. "Forty years later, it's time to do other things. It has been a real privilege to have been part of the Radio 4 family for so long. It has also been a lot of fun."

Green, who joined the BBC in 1978 as a studio manager, said she had "thoroughly enjoyed" her 34 years at the BBC. "I'll miss the buzz of live radio," she added, "but I'm really looking forward to getting involved in new projects."

BBC controller Gwyneth Williams said the two women had made an "immense contribution" and added "we will all miss them".

Green, voted the ‘Most attractive female voice on national radio’ by the Radio Times in 2002, was best-known for having a fit of giggles while trying to announce the death of the Oscar-winning screenwriter Abby Mann.

She was trying to hold back her laughter about a previous item and apologised for her outburst. Listeners rang Broadcasting House in their droves, not to complain, but to beg that the giggles be played again.

The British Journal of General Practice once described her voice as a "marvel", like being "tucked up in bed with a hot water bottle".

But Cristina Odone in The Daily Telegraph suggests that Cass and Green's "posh" voices might be the very reason BBC bosses are not on their knees begging them to stay.

"The BBC's mania for 'diversity' (ie, broadcast anyone who does not sound white and middle-class) is well documented," she writes. "Neither newsreader ticks the regional voice box, or the comprehensive school box; neither is Asian or black. That's a real handicap in today's Beeb."

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Hugely disappointing. They were a necessary antidote to overwhelming tide of official BBC Scottish accents.

Sorry 'Anonymous' - like a lot of people I don't mind Scottish (or any other accents), but what this does show is that any hint of 'elitism' - in this case presenters who speak with a good, educated accent - is to be discouraged at the BBC. Dumbing down ? It's the elites who often set the standards that others aspire to !

(Towns which lack a sprinkling of 'professional' people often fail to make much progress in the world)