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Outside Broadcaster: An Autobiography

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It may have been the experience of this frightening illness that led him to stay, lifelong, at home: that, and becoming somewhat institutionalised during those years when his airy hut at the sanatorium was his entire world and he was hardly allowed to get out of bed. Decades ago in a distant past, Eric Robson was strolling through the corridors of BBC’s Manchester HQ when he heard the controller for the north of England booming behind him: “that’s the voice I want on Gardeners’ Question Time”. He has vivid colloquial language, he has an extraordinary, individual and deep perspective – man in the environment, man living on, through and up against geology.

I’m the longest serving chairmen of one of the longest running programmes in the world and it couldn't get better than that. A fellow of the Tourism Society, Jim is also currently chairman of Eden Tourism Network and has been an enthusiastic supporter of Cumbria Tourism during the whole of his 40-plus year career in tourism in the county – including a stint as the organisation’s interim managing director in 2017. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Being proposed for president by the board and following in Eric Robson’s highly capable and high-profile footsteps is an amazing and completely unexpected honour for me.He says panellists are as likely now to discuss house plants as they are an elaborately trained espalier.

I absolutely have no doubt that the natural resilience of the tourism and hospitality economy in places like the Lake District and the whole of Cumbria will see the industry through. But for more than 35 years, he’s been one of the instantly recognisable voices of British broadcasting. And if anyone from BBC or Granada TV is reading this, why don’t you think about a full-scale dramatisation of the Herries novels?The slightly under two pages on the rougher side of Glasgow is sketched so faintly as to be barely visible. His departure marks the latest in a recent spate of male BBC stalwarts to desert their posts – some, it seems, more willingly than others.

The former Gardeners’ Question Time presenter was appointed to the honorary role in 2019 following a long-standing association with Cumbria Tourism, including a number of years as chairman. No doubt quite a lot of people are cut off from gardening because all they can afford is a one-bed flat. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions. In 2011, he was accused of a conflict of interest by anti-nuclear protesters opposed to a second generation of nuclear power plants and the possible siting of a high-level waste dump in the Lake District. Does he worry about the prospects of young working class children trying to make it in the media today?I regarded it as an honour to be allowed to read the original typescript of these; and I treasure his book, "Letters from America" and certain smaller publications which always came with one of his typical little notes. Still, his fingers are green enough to roll his eyes when I enquire what he feels about the latest trend of ‘vegan gardening’ recently suggested by Matthew Appleby, deputy editor of Horticulture Week, who has deemed bird feeders and killing slugs beyond the pale. Even in his will he thought of his school; and his last mark of affection, is his bequest of books for the library.

He is best known as the presenter of Radio 4's Gardener's Question Time, where he sees his job as keeping the panellists from 'straying into horticultural Latin'. Over the ensuing decade he became one of the BBC’s main outside broadcasters, covering events of national significance such as Remembrance Day, Trooping of the Colour, plus the 50th anniversary of the Second World War.Sat by the stove in his isolated farmhouse study, we learn about Eric's long love affair with Wasdale, and the decision to donate his OBE to his beloved adopted Cumbria; we take the long view of a broadcasting career that has included Gardeners ' Question Time, Remembrance Sundays and the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales; we talk about Eric's life as a fell farmer, and his passion for rare breeds; and we re-live the many frustrating, rewarding – and amusing – weeks spent in the company of Alfred Wainwright during the making of the TV films that made the great fellwanderer a reluctant star. For his successor he has nothing but the warmest praise: “She’s a charming lady with a wonderful voice, consummate broadcaster and a great sense of humour”. Throughout his long-standing service the 72-year-old says he’s enjoyed watching how the pastime has changed.

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