18 November 1897|
|Died||1 June 1967
|Occupation||BBC radio presenter, head of children's broadcasting for the BBC|
Derek Ivor Breashur McCulloch OBE (18 November 1897 – 1 June 1967) was a BBC Radio presenter and producer. He became known as "Uncle Mac" in Children's Favourites and Children's Hour, and the voice of "Larry the Lamb" in Toytown. He served as the head of children's broadcasting for the BBC from 1933 until 1951.
McCulloch was born in Plymouth to Scottish parents. The First World War interrupted his education, and he enlisted in 1915 in the Public Schools Battalion of the 16th Middlesex Regiment at the age of 17. He served until 1921 with the infantry, where he was commissioned into the Green Howards, and in the Royal Flying Corps as an equipment officer, including a spell on HMS Valiant. He was wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After the war he worked in Argentina on the railways, but had to return to England because of ill health.
He joined the BBC in 1926 as an announcer. He was the commentator on the first radio broadcast of the FA Cup Final in 1927. He became second in command on Children's Hour in 1931 and was placed in charge of it in 1933. The programme included talks, plays, music and drama serials. He was appointed head of children's broadcasting in 1933, serving in that position until 1951. He regarded the department as a microcosm of all broadcasting, stating: "Nothing but the best is good enough for children ... our wish is to stimulate their imaginations, direct their reading, encourage their various interests, widen their outlook and inculcate the Christian virtues of love of God and their neighbours." In 1938 he lost a leg as the result of a road accident, and thereafter remained in constant pain.
In 1939 the audience for Children's Hour reached four million. His sign-off line, "Goodnight children, everywhere," became more poignant after the evacuation of many children from their homes at the start of the Second World War. He resigned from the BBC in 1950 due to ill health.
He became the children's editor for the News Chronicle. In 1954 he returned to the BBC, to present a BBC music request programme for children, Children's Favourites, on Saturday mornings. The programme was dropped in 1964, despite protests and questions in Parliament, but it was popular, and McCulloch continued to present it until 1965. After his retirement it became Junior Choice, hosted by Ed Stewart, when the BBC Light Programme was replaced by Radio 1 and Radio 2 in 1967.
A book published in 1999 by BBC journalist John Simpson related claims from a pseudonymous source that someone Simpson called "Uncle Dick" had sexually assaulted children while working for the BBC. "Uncle Dick" was rumoured to be McCulloch. McCulloch's family described the allegations as "complete rubbish".
- Strinati, D. Come on Down?: The Politics of Popular Media Culture in Post-War Britain, Psychology Press, 1992, pp. 153, 157.
- Mckenzie, Jim. Biography by Jim Mackenzie at The Wee Web. Accessed 30 October 2012
- The Radio Academy: Derek McCulloch. Accessed 30 October 2012
- BBC Quarterly 1948.
- This Is Your Life: Season 9, Episode 19 Derek McCulloch: Uncle Mac (13 Feb. 1964) IMDb. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- O'Hagan, Andrew (27 October 2012). "Light Entertainment". London Review of Books. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "Jimmy Savile Sex Scandal: Was BBC's Larry the Lamb Derek McCulloch a Paedophile?". IB Times. 17 October 2012. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012.
- "New 'Victim' Claims Savile Abused Her At 15". Sky News. 27 October 2012. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012.
- Children's Hour
- Cahalan, Paul; Jonathan Owen (28 October 2012). "Bitter infighting sweeps the BBC". The Independent. Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Hartley, Ian. Goodnight Children Everywhere: History of Children's Broadcasting. Midas Books, 1983. ISBN 0-85936-201-9
- Walden, Jeff. "Derek McCulloch", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. September 2004.
- Derek McCulloch's appearance on This Is Your Life