Talk:Brian Johnston

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Further to the following, the correct quote is 'the batsman's Holding, the bowler's Willey' which I heard at the time & will continue to correct if necessary! - Rothorpe 07:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

So is the definitive quote (as the article now says):

"The bowler's Holding; the batsman's Willey" (Michael Holding of the West Indies bowling to Peter Willey of England in the Test match at the Oval in 1976)."

or (as the article used to say):

"The batsman's Holding; the bowler's Willey" (Peter Willey of England bolwing to Michael Holding of the West Indies bowling in the Test match at the Oval in 1976)."

Answers on a postcard... -- ALoan (Talk) 01:21, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

According to a sample on the goofs page of The official Brian Johnston website, it's "the bowler's Holding....."

Not so - see below Rothorpe 00:15, 5 March 2007 (UTC)


Johnners deserves a better write up than this ! It's good so far as it goes, but there is more. --jrleighton 11:42, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

For a man that is one of the greats in BBC and Cricket history, one of the most likable British men of the 20th century, this article must be expanded ! anon

I was listening at the time of the incident & have rewritten accordingly. I shall, however, be looking to see what CMJ has to say - Rothorpe 00:14, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

This is probably the truth of the matter...[edit]

From Barry Johnston's life of his Dad:

"When I was compiling the Johnners at the Beeb cassette for the BBC I spent hours digging through the radio and television archives and I found recordings of most of his famous slip-ups. There was one noticeable exception. In 1976 England played the West Indies at the Oval. At one point England's Peter Willey was facing the fearsome West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding. What happened next has gone down in cricketing history: 'We welcome World Service listeners to the Oval,' said Brian cheerfully, 'where the bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey.' Or did he? I think Brian made it up. It was too good a pun to resist but I do not believe that even he could have said it without laughing. The BBC engineers would also have kept a recording of such an outrageous gaffe. More revealingly, Brian never actually said that he had spoken the words on air. He was an honest man and he would not have wanted to tell an outright lie." PaddyBriggs 09:24, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

From Talk:Test Match Special[edit]

This issue was discussed a little while ago:

I stand by my version, 'the batsman's Holding, the bowler's Willey'. It is how I and my friends remembered it subsequently. It was a purely accidental occurrence: Brian Johnston must have said variants of ‘the batsman’s Smith, the bowler’s Jones’ dozens of times. And it occurred naturally as part of the commentary, not after ‘we welcome listeners’. It was very funny and I treasure the memory, and it is a pity someone along the line has decided to rewrite history. Possibly, just possibly, Brian Johnston recommitted the gaffe on purpose, and the second time Holding was bowling to Willey and not the other way round (which would have occurred more often). Here in Portugal I do not have easy access to cricketing literature, but I did cite, which gives the correct version of events: ‘the radio lot famously dissolved into a five-minute bout of hysterics one day when one of them announced that "the batsman's Holding, the bowler's Willey"’. The ‘five minutes’ is an exaggeration, half a minute more like, but the stunned silence followed by the sound of three grown men (Johnston, Bill Frindall the scorer and whoever the ‘expert’ commenter was) helplessly giggling are not easily forgotten. There must be a source somewhere that tells it like it was. - Rothorpe 14:28, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that Johnners son Barry would have found the source if there had been one - his biog was very thorough. It should be respected as the best and most reliable account there is. PaddyBriggs 16:06, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course it is not surprising that the quotation has been turned round, as Holding was a great fast bowler. If anyone else remembers that day in 1976 (I was 26), please let me know. It's a good example of the more likely version being mistaken for the real, even as here by the man's son - Rothorpe 17:38, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The problem here is that, in terms of Wikipedia, what you remember counts for nothing. Per Wikipedia:Attribution, The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true. In this case, We have Blowers, CMJ, Johnners and his son all saying the same thing: The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey. Hence this must be the version of the quote to be included in the article. →Ollie (talkcontribs) 18:35, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course you're right. Caveat lector! - Rothorpe 23:29, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

The substantive point is that there is no Wikifiable evidence that Johnners ever said it live on air at a match at all! Barry's biog points out that BJ was always honest - you always knew when he was gently fabricating because of the twinkle in his eye. Peter Baxter would probably have found the recording if it existed. Whether it's Holding/Willey or Willey/Holding is incidental. The joke (for that seems to be what it was) works either way. Has anyone got a tape of Johnners telling the joke on one of his theatre tours? That would at least tell us how he intended it to be told! PaddyBriggs 08:35, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

It's available on his website, [1] (go the Gaffes and Giggles section, it's the fourth one down). In this he even admits to not knowing whether he actually said it on air or not. The quote needs mentioning as it is widely attributed to him, but it needs to be explained that he probably didn't say it, per the sources. →Ollie (talkcontribs) 11:09, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! Lovely to hear Johnners tell the story. Bowler=Holding, Batsman=Willey in this version. I think that it is apocryphal and that we now have it about right on the Johnners Wiki page. PaddyBriggs 17:37, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Re: The reference cited above - doesn't seem particularly reliable, and I wonder this is another case of mis-matched anecdotes, when the 'five-minute hysterics' is possibly for the leg-over clip (that is well documented and the audio evidence exists!). Also as the bowler only needed to bowl one ball to the batsman for this quote to have been made, the argument that Willey bowled to Holding more often doesn't seem to matter - the only person who could check that is probably Bearders who has a complete record of balls faced/bowled to each player from his linear-scoring system. I also suggest that User:Rothorpe listens to the leg-over clip - the hysterics are exactly as he describes earlier in this thread!

A 31 year memory may seem reliable, but it is not verifiable, and unfortunately cannot be used as a reference. The thoughts to Johnners Jr, Blowers, CMJ and the like should really be given more credit than

Just some thoughts. MDCollins (talk) 15:20, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

I can't listen to anything on my computer but I have already written to Bill Frindall: - Rothorpe 23:16, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

He never replied: if he had, he would have been disagreeing with someone, as a quick google shows that both variants are 'remembered', & perhaps he preferred not to. Rothorpe 00:13, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

In Barry Johnston's definitive life of his father "Johnners: The Life of Brian" Page 235 the quote is "... the bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey." PaddyBriggs 04:18, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

And Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Rothorpe 14:31, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

I missed the famous utterance at the time but heard all about it later; I was 11 during that long, hot summer of 1976 and sometimes watched coverage of Test matches on BBC.

However, when Johnners died (1994?) there were TV and radio programmes celebrating his life and playing back some of his best bits. In more than one of these he became reduced to near-speechlessness with laughter while setting off all those around him. This included both the "leg over" and "Holding-Willey" incidents. There were other ones where listeners had sent the Test Match Special items in, including one chocolatey cake that a woman sent in and was in the process of disintegrating. Rothorpe must have tuned in to hear the actual incident at the time it happened, but the clip they played back in the posthumous programme(s) about him was from a Test Match special subsequent to the Holding-Willey one, when Johnston said that a lady had written in to him saying: "Do you know what you said last week? You said the bowler's Holding the batsman's Willey!". This was followed by a collapse into uncontrollable laughter by all present that seemed to last for at least two or three minutes. Vain attempts were made to resume commentary on the actual match being played before giving way to helpless fits of laughter again. I'm really surprised there isn't an audio clip of this out there somewhere! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:38, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

For the truth, see my user page. Rothorpe (talk) 02:13, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
The correct version, "The batsman's Holding, the bowler's Willey", is also listed here: [2] Rothorpe (talk) 22:34, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

In Town Tonight quote[edit]

Cut from the article:

An incident illustrating Brian Johnston's fast thinking and terrific wit occurred in about 1951-52 when he was on "In Town Tonight" the BBC programme which included interviews with celebrities who were in London at various times. Brian was interviewing an obnoxious American who, when asked about his visit, made the statement; "London is the asshole of the world". To which Johnston instantly replied "Oh, so you're just passing through, then."
[This obviously was never used on air but I heard the story the next day from the father of a schoolfriend. He was a producer on the show and came home still laughing about it when he arrived and told us. I have never heard any reference to this in any of the various memoirs about him. If any of my schoolfriends, who heard this at the same time as I did, are still alive, they will verify this.(Terry Hallard, Worthing)]

Did this really happen? I've heard about this too, but as with the Holding/Willey quote above it may be apocryphal. Maybe here should be a section on apocryphal quotes. Totnesmartin (talk) 09:10, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

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