For the record – a louder alarm


Announcer Arthur Adair on how he got into the business – and almost got out of it

Eight years ago, Arthur Adair applied for a job with a London advertising agency. He was asked to call for an interview. When, a few days later, he gave his name to the receptionist, he was greeted with a charming smile.

Article from the TVTimes Midlands edition for 13-19 January 1957

“Oh, yes, we’re expecting you, Mr. Adair,” she said. “Please come this way.” Arthur Adair was ushered into an imposing office where a friendly executive greeted him. “Thank goodness you’ve come,” he said. “Now about this film, we…”

Arthur quickly pointed out there was a mistake. He was applying for a job in the commercial radio department. The executive apologised and explained that he thought he was addressing Alan Adair. “We do need someone for a show tonight,” he said. “Come along and then we’ll talk about a permanent job.”

This strange introduction led to Arthur Adair joining the company. He stayed with them for the next seven years. Today he is one of ATV’s announcing team, sharing with Peter Cockburn and Dick Norton all announcing in London and Birmingham.

Although Adair is a permanent part of ATV, he still produces a weekly commercial radio show. For the past five years, he has produced a Bing Crosby record show every Sunday.

“This doesn’t mean that I have TV production ambitions,” he says. “I love my job in front of the camera. Oh yes, I would like the chance to act in television. I’ve had quite a bit of experience in the theatre.”

For three seasons before he went into commercial radio, Adair played in repertory in Jersey. But his introduction to show business began in Burma where, as a Royal Artillery sergeant, he was posted to the Chindits concert party. He was compere, entertainer, impressionist — a fitting start to his career which led, shortly before he left for England, to the Forces Broadcasting Company.

At that time, Adair was Arthur Smith. Back in this country, he changed his name. Still working for the Forces Broadcasting Company, he was to announce a Geraldo programme. “You won’t get very far with a name like Arthur Smith,” said the bandleader. Arthur agreed. For that programme and thereafter he used his mother’s maiden name of Adair.

True to theatrical tradition, Adair boasts that he has never missed a show. But only 30 seconds saved his record a few weeks ago. Due to open the London transmitter at two minutes to nine one Saturday morning, he awoke at 8.15. From his Roehampton flat, he rang the studio that he couldn’t make it.

But Arthur Adair hates giving in. He threw on some clothes and, breakfastless and unshaved, dashed to catch a bus. He arrived at Putney at 8.40 and flung himself into a taxi.

“I’ve less than 20 minutes to get to Oxford Circus,” he shouted. “There’s a bonus for you if you can get me there in time.”

The taxi made it. At 8.58½, just as the ATV signature tune was being played, Arthur Adair hurtled through the studio door.

“What an experience,” he recalls. “But it made me do a thing I had promised to do for several weeks: buy a louder alarm clock!”

About the author

Features writer at the TVTimes

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