Cliff Michelmore

Arthur Clifford "Cliff" Michelmore CBE (11 December 1919 – 16 March 2016) was an English television presenter and producer. He was best known for the BBC television programme Tonight, which he presented from 1957 to 1965. He also hosted the BBC's television coverage of the Apollo moon landings, the Aberfan disaster, the 1966 and 1970 UK general elections and the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1969.

Cliff Michelmore

Arthur Clifford Michelmore

11 December 1919
Died16 March 2016 (aged 96)
OccupationPresenter, producer
Jean Metcalfe
(m. 1950; died 2000)
ChildrenJenny Michelmore
Guy Michelmore

Early life

Michelmore was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, in 1919,[1] and attended Cowes Secondary School, Denmark Road, Cowes, Loughborough College and Leicester College of Technology and Art. He was a member of the 32nd entry of the Aircraft Apprentice Scheme at No. 1 School of Technical Training RAF which was located at RAF Halton. He was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and began broadcasting on British Forces Network radio.

Broadcasting career

After the war he worked for BBC Radio and television as a freelance sports commentator, then as a news reporter and as a producer of children's programmes, including All Your Own. Michelmore married a nurse during the war but divorced in 1949.[2]

On 4 March 1950 he married Jean Metcalfe, a BBC announcer, who presented Two-Way Family Favourites in London while he was presenting the Hamburg link in the programme for the British Forces Broadcasting Service. The two did not meet face to face for six months, but after meeting they were quickly engaged and married. Cliff called it 'love at first hearing'.[3] They had a daughter, actress Jenny Michelmore, and a son, broadcaster and composer Guy Michelmore, both of whom have children.

From 1955 to 1957 Michelmore presented the BBC TV programme Highlight, a current affairs show with a reputation for uncompromising interviews. On 18 February 1957 he became anchorman for BBC Television's new topical weekday magazine show Tonight, which ran for eight years and attracted eight million viewers at its peak. This made him probably the most frequently appearing person on television at the time, and hence one of the best-known people in the UK. He was named BAFTA Television Personality of the Year in 1958.[4] Michelmore introduced a 17-year-old David Bowie to his first television audience on Tonight in 1964. Bowie was introduced as the spokesman and founder of 'The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men'.

When Tonight finished in 1965, Michelmore hosted a BBC One series called 24 Hours[5] until 1968. In 1967 he presented the UK segment of Our World (TV special),[6] a worldwide TV broadcast that was the first to use satellite communication extensively in an attempt to "connect the whole world by television".[7] The programme featured a performance by the Beatles of their song "All You Need Is Love". Michelmore used to claim[8] that the song was at least partly inspired by the Our World logo, a chain of figures holding hands around the world. In the 1970s and up until the demise of Southern Television in December 1981 (the ITV contractor for much of southern England), Michelmore acted as chief anchorman and presenter for the evening local news programme "Day by Day". When the BBC closed their Lime Grove Studios in 1991, Michelmore presented the last broadcast from Lime Grove.[9]

After leaving full-time television work, Michelmore became head of EMI's new video division. He was a regular presenter on BBC1's Holiday programme from 1969 to 1986, and presented other shows for BBC TV, ITV and BBC Radio. Michelmore returned to the BBC on 18 November 2007 to introduce a programme on the BBC Parliament channel, recalling the 1967 devaluation of the pound. He resided during his later life in the West Sussex village of South Harting.


Michelmore died at Petersfield Hospital in Hampshire on 16 March 2016, aged 96.[10][11] His body was buried in the graveyard of Saint Mary & Saint Gabriel Church in South Harting.

Personal life

Michelmore married Jean Metcalfe in 1950, the marriage producing two children, a daughter, Jenny, and a son Guy Michelmore.


  1. ^ Sharp, David. "Michelmore, Cliff (1919–)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Cliff Michelmore, television presenter - obituary". The Telegraph. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Jean Metcalfe: The Forces' Favourite". BBC News. 29 January 2000.
  4. ^ "TV Commentary: Annual Awards". Glasgow Herald. 6 December 1958. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  5. ^ Production paperwork, The Radio Times and BBC Archive library all list the title in words, while the programme's logo used numerals.
  6. ^ "Obituary: Cliff Michelmore". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Our World: first ever live international TV production". European Broadcasting Union. 4 July 2007. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Legendary BBC presenter Cliff Michelmore who anchored British coverage of the Apollo moon landings and several general elections dies aged 96". Mail Online. Daily Mail. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Cliff Michelmore Death: Six Things You Might Not Know About the BBC Broadcaster". Newsweek. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Cliff Michelmore: BBC radio and TV broadcaster dies aged 96". BBC News. 17 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Obituary: Cliff Michelmore". BBC. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.

External links

24 Hours (TV programme)

24 Hours or Twenty-Four Hours was a long-running, late evening, daily news magazine programme that aired on BBC1. It focused on analysis and criticism of current affairs and featured in-depth short documentary films that set the style for current affairs magazine programmes. 24 Hours launched on 4 October 1965 and focused on investigative journalism. The programme's main presenter was Cliff Michelmore.

All Your Own

All Your Own is a BBC children's television programme broadcast from 1952 until 1961. The show provided the first television appearances for Jimmy Page, John Williams and the King Brothers.Commissioned by Freda Lingstrom and produced by Cliff Michelmore, the show featured children demonstrating their talents or showing off their collections. The programme was presented by Huw Wheldon until 1960. Other presenters included Brian Johnston.

British television Apollo 11 coverage

British television coverage of the Apollo 11 mission, man's first to land on the Moon, lasted from 16 to 24 July 1969. All three UK television channels, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV, provided extensive coverage. Most of the footage covering the event from a British perspective has now been wiped or lost.

Cowes Enterprise College

Cowes Enterprise College, previously known as Cowes High School, is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form with academy status located on the outskirts of Cowes at Crossfield Avenue on the Isle of Wight, England.

Family Favourites

Successor to the wartime show Forces Favourites, Family Favourites (remembered by its later name Two-Way Family Favourites) was broadcast at Sunday lunchtimes on the BBC Light Programme, BBC Radio 2 and the British Forces Broadcasting Service until 1980. It was a request programme designed to link families at home in the UK with British Forces serving in West Germany or elsewhere overseas. It was a big success.

It had the memorable signature tune "With a Song in My Heart" (original played by Andre Kostelanetz and his Orchestra) and was presented by a variety of well-known radio personalities including Cliff Michelmore, Jean Metcalfe, Bill Crozier in Cologne, Michael Aspel, Judith Chalmers and Sarah Kennedy. The final UK presenter was Jean Challis, although both Pete Murray and Ed Stewart continued to use the title for segments of their shows, often linking up with places such as Australia and New Zealand, for another couple of years during the 1980s - during this time, the song "Hurry Home" by Wavelength became popular with the families of troops returning from the Falklands War.

Geoffrey Johnson-Smith

Sir Geoffrey Johnson-Smith, (16 April 1924 in Glasgow – 11 August 2010) was a Scottish Conservative politician in the United Kingdom. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1959 to 2001, with only a brief interruption in the 1960s. He was also a television presenter.

The son of an electrical engineer, he joined the Royal Artillery straight from Charterhouse School in 1942 and after the war was demobilised as a captain.

At Lincoln College, Oxford, he read PPE. Contemporaries remembered him as Oxford’s best-dressed socialist, though he always insisted he never joined the Labour Party. In his final year he and Robin Day took part in a debating tour of United States run by the English-Speaking Union. From Oxford he joined the British Information Services, serving in San Francisco, where he met his wife, Jeanne, an American doctor whom he married in 1951. He won a seat on London County Council in 1955, representing Putney, but lost it at the 1958 election.

He was later a presenter of the BBC magazine programme Tonight in the late 1950s.

Shortly before the 1959 general election, Cliff Michelmore, Tonight’s presenter, had a hernia operation and Johnson-Smith was promoted to co-host the show for six weeks. His profile was thus at its highest when the election was called, and on 8 October 1959 he ousted the Labour member for Holborn and St Pancras South, Lena Jeger, by 656 votes.

He successfully promoted a bill authorising councils to operate a meals-on-wheels service for the elderly and was soon on the fast track, within six months becoming PPS to ministers at the Board of Trade; in 1962 he moved to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance.

His parliamentary career was interrupted in October 1964 when Lena Jeger had her revenge by 2,756 votes as Labour came to power. He briefly returned to television, freelancing for the BBC and Rediffusion’s religious programmes.

However, he returned to the House of Commons the following year at a by-election in the safe Conservative seat of East Grinstead. When that constituency was abolished for the 1983 election, he was returned for the new Wealden constituency, and held that seat until he retired at the 2001 general election.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home quickly appointed him an Opposition whip, and when Edward Heath became leader that summer he made Johnson-Smith a party vice-chairman.

When Heath came to power in 1970 he kept Johnson-Smith at Central Office. Soon afterwards Iain Macleod died suddenly, the party Chairman Anthony Barber taking his place and Johnson-Smith becoming acting chairman. He was never in the running for the top job, despite his popularity among Conservative ladies, and in April 1971 he instead became Under-Secretary for Defence for the Army.

Johnson-Smith, who was later to launch a successful campaign on behalf of haemophiliacs who had been given infected blood, fought a long battle to curb the Church of Scientology. The Church had its headquarters near East Grinstead and in 1970 he endured a six-week libel case before a jury vindicated his stance.

After the Bloody Sunday killings of January 1972, he mounted an uncompromising defence of the Parachute Regiment: "It is bad enough for our troops to have to run all the perils and be shot at by gunmen without having their pain increased by smears in this House."

In November 1972 Heath moved him sideways to the Civil Service Department, with the remit of sharpening presentation of government policy. His time there was dominated by the Kenneth Littlejohn affair, which was still rumbling on when Heath called a snap election in February 1974. Johnson-Smith fought a skilful media campaign, but could not prevent Heath losing.

When Margaret Thatcher took the leadership, she asked him to oversee media activities at Central Office alongside a fellow television professional, Gordon Reece. After her 1979 election victory he joined the 1922 executive and chaired the party’s backbench media committee.

From 1980 to 1996 he chaired the select committee on Member's Interests, having to field embarrassing questions about the business activities of Mrs Thatcher’s son Mark.

Johnson-Smith specialised increasingly in defence. From 1985 he chaired the military committee of the North Atlantic Assembly, and from 1987 to 1997 he led the British delegation. For six years he chaired the Conservative backbench defence committee.

He was knighted in 1982 and sworn of the Privy Council in 1996.

Guy Michelmore

Guy Michelmore is an English film/TV composer and former television news presenter.

Holiday (TV series)

Holiday is a long-running UK television programme, which aired mainly on BBC One, sometimes airing on BBC Two. It is the oldest travel review series on UK television, showing every year from 1969 until its demise in 2007.

Jean Metcalfe

Jean Metcalfe (2 March 1923, Reigate, Surrey – 28 January 2000, Petersfield, Hampshire) was an English radio broadcaster.

Leon Griffiths

Leon Griffiths (15 February 1928 – 10 June 1992) was a British writer for TV and film. He is best known for being the creator of the ITV comedy-drama Minder. The inspiration for the show came from the stories he heard while frequenting drinking clubs in north London.

Griffiths was born in Sheffield, but grew up in Glasgow. During his national service he worked for the British Forces Network alongside Cliff Michelmore. After completing his service he took up a writing post with the Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.

He later went on to write for TV shows The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Four Just Men and Play for Today. His film credits include The Grissom Gang, The Hellfire Club, The Squeeze and The Treasure of Monte Cristo.

Lime Grove Studios

Lime Grove Studios was a film, and later television, studio complex in Shepherd's Bush, west London, England.

The complex was built by the Gaumont Film Company in 1915. It was situated in Lime Grove, a residential street in Shepherd's Bush, and when it first opened was described by Gaumont as "the finest studio in Great Britain and the first building ever put up in this country solely for the production of films". Many Gainsborough Pictures films were made here from the early 1930s. Its sister studio was Islington Studios, also used by Gainsborough; films were often shot partly at Islington and partly at Lime Grove.

In 1949, the complex was purchased by the BBC, who used it for television broadcasts until 1991. It was demolished in 1993.


Michelmore is a surname. People with that name include:

Andrew Michelmore, Australian lightweight rower who won a gold medal at the 1974 World Rowing Championships in Lucerne

Cliff Michelmore (1919–2016), English television presenter and producer

Guy Michelmore, English film/TV composer and former television news presenter, son of Cliff Michelmore

Laurence Michelmore (1909–1997), UNRWA Commissioner-General 1964–1971

Newsroom South East

Newsroom South East was the BBC's regional news programme for southeastern England. It was launched on Tuesday 28 March 1989 as the successor to London Plus, the South East's previous news programme. The programme was in turn replaced by South Today in the Heathfield coverage area between 1992 and 2001 (when this area was switched to South East Today) and the Oxford coverage area from October 2000. South East Today in the Bluebell Hill and Dover coverage areas from September 2001 and BBC London News in the Crystal Palace coverage area from October 2001.The main presenter of the programme in its early years was Guy Michelmore, the son of BBC presenter Cliff Michelmore. For all but the last two months, the programme was broadcast from the BBC's Elstree Studios, near Borehamwood in Hertfordshire. In August 2001 the future home of the successor BBC London News programme - a new and purpose built broadcast centre on the Marylebone High Street - was used alongside radio station BBC London Live. To provide continuity to staff prior to the launch of BBC London News, the Elstree set was temporarily placed in the Marylebone Road studios for these few weeks, although the smaller space meant that there was only space for one presenter.

Following the 1999 BBC News relaunch, the main bulletin aired between 6.30 and 6.55pm after the BBC Six O'Clock News. Other bulletins followed the BBC One O'Clock News and the BBC Ten O'Clock News. Main presenters included Mike Embley, Gwenan Edwards, Gargy Patel, Gillian Joseph, Tim Donovan, Heather Lima and sports presenter Rob Curling.

Unlike other BBC regions, Newsroom South East never had a dedicated weather forecaster; instead the weather came from whichever national forecaster was presenting that particular day.

Playbox (1955 TV series)

Playbox is a British children's television programme that was broadcast on BBC from 1955 to 1964. Presenters who appeared on it included Eamonn Andrews, Rolf Harris, Tony Hart, Cliff Michelmore and Johnny Morris.

Society of Film and Television Arts Television Awards 1959

The 1959 Society of Film and Television Arts Television Awards were the first giving under that name of the United Kingdom's premier television awards, having previously been known as the Guild of Television Producers and Directors Awards before that organisation's merger with the British Film Academy. The awards later became known as the British Academy Television Awards, under which name they are still given.

Tonight (1957 TV programme)

Tonight is a British current affairs television programme, presented by Cliff Michelmore, that was broadcast on BBC live on weekday evenings from 18 February 1957 to 18 June 1965. The producers were the future Controller of BBC1 Donald Baverstock and the future Director-General of the BBC Alasdair Milne. The audience was typically seven million viewers.

Trevor Baker

Trevor Baker (27 August 1921 – 19 August 2016) was a British meteorologist. He joined the Met Office in 1941 and worked all over the UK (as well as a stint in Hong Kong between 1953 and 1956) before being seconded to the BBC in 1962. After a few months he moved to Southern Television's evening news magazine Day by Day. He worked with a number of different co-presenters including Cliff Michelmore, Barry Westwood and Fred Dinenage and his role gradually expanded (reading out congratulatory messages, writing a book) until eventually he was given his own show The Trevor Baker All Weather Show. Baker remained in his position when the franchise changed to TVS (Television South) in 1982 and continued on until 1987. When people in Southampton said "Trevor says it's going to be fine today", nobody ever said "Trevor who?". He had achieved that ultimate accolade, accorded to very few, of being immediately identifiable by his first name. In all he was on-air for 25 years —at the time Britain's longest-serving TV weather forecaster.

Wheelbase (TV series)

Wheelbase is a BBC television series circling about cars, that was broadcast on BBC2 between 1964 and 1975.


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