Tony Whitby

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Tony Whitby
Died 1975

Tony Whitby (c.1930 – 1975)[1][2] was a British BBC Radio producer and Television current affairs editor who was Controller of BBC Radio 4 from 1970 to 1975.

Life and career[edit]

At the University of Oxford, Whitby wrote a thesis on Matthew Arnold.[3][4] He began his career as a civil servant in the Colonial Office.[5]

Tony Whitby joined the BBC as a radio producer on At Home and Abroad in the 1950s.[5] During the 1960s Tony Whitby was a television current affairs editor on Gallery,[3] Tonight and 24 Hours. Whitby was Secretary of the BBC,[5] before his appouintment as Controller of Radio 4 in 1969, taking up the post in January 1970.[3] In this post, he gained a reputation for shrewdly picking out the ideas of others and embellishing them by adding his own thoughts and suggestions. He had no intention of creating a new schedule from scratch, but he wanted a more topical and a more varied flavour - to make Radio 4, in his words, like a "well-labelled library that has a few surprises in it". So, in 1970, along came the unashamedly serious Analysis and the magisterial World Tonight, the bright and breezy 'commuter magazine' PM Reports and a phone-in called It's Your Line, the satirical sketch-show Week Ending, and the consumer magazine You and Yours.[6] In 1972, Whitby commissioned the first series of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue[7] and in 1973 Kaleidoscope.[4] In 2010, David Hendy, lecturer in broadcasting history at the University of Westminster, said:

"Looking back, what's most striking about Whitby's revolution of 1970 is how genuinely eclectic it made Radio 4, with programmes stretching across a suddenly wider spectrum, from the intellectually demanding or disturbing at one end to the faintly scurrilous or comforting at the other. The changes 40 years ago set Radio 4 on its long-term trajectory: away from the dusty tones of the somewhat middlebrow old Home Service, to the tougher, livelier, more authoritative, network we have today.".[6]

His wife was Joy Whitby, known for her work in children's programming.[8]


  1. ^ David Hendy Life on Air, Oxford University Press, 2008 [2007]
  2. ^ Simon Elmes And Now on Radio 4: A Celebration of the World's Best Radio Station, Arrow (pb), 2008 [2007], p.32
  3. ^ a b c The Birth of BBC Radio 4’s Analysis, Hugh Chignell
  4. ^ a b Mainly fair, moderate, or good, Stefan Collini, The Guardian, 22 September 2007
  5. ^ a b c Bournemouth University BBC Radio 4 Analysis Archive Project
  6. ^ a b A year of anniversaries on Radio 4, David Hendy, 6 October 2010
  7. ^ I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue,
  8. ^ Samira Ahmed "Joy Whitby: a life spent telling children's stories on TV", 1 February 2013