Derek McCulloch

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Derek McCulloch
Derek Ivor Breashur McCulloch

(1897-11-18)18 November 1897
Plymouth, Devon, England
Died1 June 1967(1967-06-01) (aged 69)
Haywards Heath, West Sussex, England
OccupationBBC Radio producer and presenter
Head of children's broadcasting for the BBC
Spouse(s)Eileen Barry (1931–1967, his death)
AwardsOBE, 1964

Derek Ivor Breashur McCulloch OBE (18 November 1897 – 1 June 1967) was a BBC Radio producer and presenter. He became known as "Uncle Mac" on Children's Hour and Children's Favourites and his being the voice of "Larry the Lamb" in Toytown. He was the head of children's broadcasting for the BBC from 1933 until 1951.[1]

Early life[edit]

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.[2]



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.[3] 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.[1] 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."[4] In 1938 he lost a leg as the result of a road accident, and thereafter remained in constant pain.[2]

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[3] but continued to chair Nature Parliament which ran roughly every month on Children's Hour.

Children's Favourites[edit]

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.[1] 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.


He wrote two children's stories, Cornish Adventure (1941) and Cornish Mystery (1950), and gave his name to a series of Ladybird children's books in the 1950s.[2]

Personal life[edit]

McCulloch married Eileen Hilda Barry in 1931. He was awarded an OBE in 1964. He died at Haywards Heath on 1 June 1967.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in February 1964 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in central London.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Strinati, D. Come on Down?: The Politics of Popular Media Culture in Post-War Britain, Psychology Press, 1992, pp. 153, 157.
  2. ^ a b c Mckenzie, Jim. Biography by Jim Mackenzie at The Wee Web Archived 15 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 October 2012
  3. ^ a b The Radio Academy: Derek McCulloch Archived 19 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 October 2012
  4. ^ BBC Quarterly 1948.
  5. ^ This Is Your Life: Season 9, Episode 19 Derek McCulloch: Uncle Mac (13 Feb. 1964) IMDb. Retrieved 25 March 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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