Tom Browne (broadcaster)

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Tom Browne
Born (1945-11-11) 11 November 1945 (age 70)
Lymington, Hampshire, England
Occupation Actor, DJ
Years active 1965-2003

Tom Browne (born 11 November 1945) is a British broadcaster and actor, born in Lymington, Hampshire, and educated at King's College School, Wimbledon.

Radio and acting career[edit]

As an actor, Browne graduated from RADA. He appeared very briefly in the second series (set in 1945, the first series being set in 1928) of The Flaxton Boys playing the part of Captain Ewing in the episode called, "Is your journey really necessary?" shown on television on 25 March 1973.

He began his radio broadcasting career in Denmark in 1965. He married a Danish girl and moved to Chiswick in west London and in 1972 was unexpectedly chosen by BBC producer Johnny Beerling to succeed Alan Freeman as presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Sunday afternoon chart show. He presented this show from 1 October 1972 to 26 March 1978 - initially it was a three-hour show from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Sunday called "Solid Gold Sixty" selecting hits which were becoming popular (not necessarily in numerical order including those that were 'bubbling under' between 60 and 21).

The first record that Browne played on his first show was "Honky Cat" by Elton John. The first two hours were broadcast only on Radio 1's medium wave channel of the time, 247 metres (1215 kHz) although occasionally local radio stations broadcasting on FM in mono such as BBC Radio London (94.9 MHz) would carry the transmission from 4 - 6pm after their local broadcasts had closed down. The previous Sunday chart show, the long running Pick of the Pops with Alan Freeman, aired between 5-7pm and was broadcast not just on 247m but Radio 2's FM and LW frequencies for the entire show, but the axing of Pick of the Pops, brought a change to the allocation of FM and LW airtime, with Radio 1 losing one of the precious hours of valuable FM and LW for its chart show, as they reverted to Radio 2. This was bad news for the numerous parts of the country where reception of Radio 1 on 247m was poor, especially during the winter months. From the outset on 1 October 1972, Solid Gold 60's final hour was broadcast on FM and LW as well as on Radio 1 (247m). Twenty records were crammed into 60 minutes, plus a verbal countdown. Whilst many recordings of the many Top 20's aired between 6-7 survive today, there seem to be few recordings of the first two hours of Solid Gold 60 (4-6pm) which have survived.

At 7.00 p.m., the VHF/FM (88 - 91 kHz) transmitters reverted to BBC Radio 2 only. The programme was listened to by millions and started with the sound of the Apollo mission's 'we have lift-off!' words. Sound effects, amongst many, included a racing car which indicated a record was rapidly moving up the top 20. Another example was the female vocal group sound of 'It's A Top Twenty Entry - Right!' which was used regularly on the programme. After the number 2 hit had finished playing, a further vocal run-down by Browne of numbers 20 down to 2 followed (with Browne's choice of background music) and then the number one record was announced and played which completed the programme. The chart was first broadcast (compiled by the British Market Research Bureau) on Johnnie Walker's programme the previous Tuesday (247 metres MW only) and played by Walker at that time. The music used for that rundown was Booker T. & the M.G.'s track, "Time is Tight".

The Sunday chart show would be the only show Browne ever presented on Radio 1, but he did present occasional music documentaries on the station, notably on Abba, Queen and The Stylistics, and he never showed any sign of crossing over to television (except for his brief appearance in 1973 mentioned earlier), for example via Top of the Pops. His smooth style and received pronunciation James Mason-like voice (becoming more noticeable in later years; initially he had tried to sound more like a 1970s pop radio DJ) were unusual for Radio 1 even then, and would be utterly unthinkable now.[1]

After leaving Radio 1 he broadcast for BBC Radio 2 in the early 1980s and provided the voiceover for many TV and radio adverts. He subsequently became a newsreader for BBC World television and then moved to Hong Kong, where he became a popular broadcaster on the British Armed Forces radio service in the final years of British rule. His final appearance as a DJ on national BBC radio came at the very end of 1991, when he presented "The Million Selling Singles of the 60s and 70s" on BBC Radio 2, although he was a contributor to Radio 1's "25 Years of the UK Top 40", which aired in September 1992.

He fronted BFBS Radio Hong Kong's weekday breakfast show until the territory reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 and continued working in radio, as well as a commercial voice-over artist and freelance video presenter until 2005, thereafter retiring to live in Thailand with his Thai wife. In 2003 he recorded linking vocals for Shaun Tilley's UK Rewind Top Twenty Show.


Preceded by
Alan Freeman
BBC Radio 1
chart show presenter

1 October 1972 - 26 March 1978
Succeeded by
Simon Bates