name = Brian Johnston
image_size = 240px
caption = "It's Been A Lot Of Fun", double cassette cover, 1997 (autobiography)
birth_name = Brian Alexander Johnston
birth_date = birth date|1912|06|24
Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
death_date = death date and age|1994|01|05|1912|06|24
Westminster, London, England
death_cause = Heart attack
nationality = British
occupation = Commentator, Cricket commentator
Brian Alexander Johnston MC (24 June 1912 - 5 January 1994) (known as Johnners) was a
cricketcommentator for the BBCfrom 1946 until his death.
Early biography and education
Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, he was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. On 27 August 1922 his father drowned at Bude, Cornwallat the age of 44. Brian's grandfather was governor of the Bank of Englandbetween 1908 and 1913. The World War IIair commander Frederick 'Boy' Browning was his first cousin. [cite book |last=Johnston |first=Brian |title= Someone Who Was |page=p.66|year=1992 |publisher=Methuen |location=London |id=ISBN 0-7493-1099-5 ]
Johnston obtained a fourth-class degree in
Historyin 1933 and he then joined the family's coffeebusiness, where he worked until the outbreak of the war. During the 1930s, he was posted to Brazilbut admitted years later that he had little liking or enjoyment of the work. He wanted to be an actor originally. When war was declared in 1939 Johnston joined the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, where he served as a Technical Adjutantand was awarded the Military Crossin 1945.
After he was de-mobilised, Brian Johnston joined the
BBCin January 1946, after service with the Grenadier Guardsin the Second World Warin which he won the Military Cross. He began his cricket commentating career at Lord's for BBC Television in June 1946 at the England v India Test match. On 22 April 1948 he married Pauline Tozer. They had five children. The last of his children to be born, a daughter, Joanna, has Down's Syndrome. In these early years, Johnston was an occasional presenter of other BBC shows, including " Come Dancing" and " All Your Own".
He became a regular member of the TV commentary team and, in addition, became BBC cricket correspondent in 1963. From 1965 onwards Johnston split his commentary duties between television (three Tests) and radio (two Tests) each summer. In 1970 Johnston was unceremoniously dropped from the TV commentary team but continued to appear as a member of the
Test Match Special(TMS) radio team. He retired from the BBC in 1972 on his sixtieth birthday, and became a freelance commentator and it was in that capacity that he continued to appear on TMS for the next twenty-two years.
Johnston was responsible for a number of the TMS traditions, including the creation, often using the so-called
Oxford '-er', of the nicknames of fellow commentators (for example, Jonathan Agnewis still known as "Aggers", Henry Blofeldas "Blowers" and Bill Frindallas "the Bearded Wonder"). He once complained on air that he had missed his cake at tea during one match - the TMS team are still sent cakes by listeners.
Incidents and gaffes
In one famous incident during a Test match at
the Oval, Jonathan Agnew suggested that Ian Bothamwas out hit wicket because had failed to "get his leg over." Johnston carried on commentating (and giggling) for 30 seconds before dissolving into helpless laughter. [Listen to [http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/fungames/audio/legover.mp3 mp3] .] Among his other gaffes was cquote|There's Neil Harvey standing at leg slip with his legs wide apart, waiting for a tickle. when Neil Harveywas representing Australia at the Headingley Test in 1961.cite book |last=Johnston |first=Brian |title=Chatterboxes: My Friends the Commentators |year=1984 |publisher=W H Allen & Co|location=London |id=ISBN 0-352-31493-1]
The oft cited quote:allegedly occurred when
Michael Holdingof the West Indies was bowling to Peter Willeyof England in a Test matchat the Ovalin 1976. Johnston claimed not to have noticed saying anything odd during the match, and that he was only alerted to his gaffe by a letter from "a lady" named "Miss Mainpiece". [cite book |last=Johnston |first=Brian |title= It's Been a Piece of Cake|year=1990 |publisher=Methuen |location=London |id=ISBN 0-7493-0293-3 ] According to Christopher Martin-Jenkins, [cite book|last=Martin-Jenkins |first=Christopher |title= Ball by Ball - The Story of Cricket Broadcasting|year=1990 |publisher=Grafton Books|id=ISBN 0-246-13568-9 |pages=160 ] the cricinfo biography, [ [http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/ci/content/player/15526.html Cricinfo - Players and Officials - Brian Johnston ] ] and the biography of Brian by Johnston's son Barry, [cite book|last=Johnston |first=Barry |title= Johnners - The Life of Brian |year=2003 |publisher=Hodder & Stoughton|id=ISBN 0-340-82471-9 |pages=367 ] Johnston never actually made the remark. His son says "It was too good a pun to resist...but Brian never actually said that he had spoken the words on air." . However, this is contradicted by an account [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/test_match_special/2664751.stm BBC SPORT | Cricket | Test Match Special | A breeze for Blowers ] ] offered by Henry Blofeld, who claims to have been present at the time. It is perhaps worth noting though that, with Blofeld's recollection of the score being 81-7 when the remark was made, England had a healthy first innings, and in the second Willey was the fourth wicket. [ [http://uk.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1970S/1976/WI_IN_ENG/WI_ENG_T5_12-17AUG1976.html Cricinfo Archive | 5th TEST: England v West Indies at The Oval, 12-17 Aug 1976] ]
A popular cricket website, [http://www.holdingwilley.com Holdingwilley.com] , has named itself after this well-known cricket anecdote, although the site is a general cricket website and doesn't focus on that incident alone.
As a BBC staff commentator Johnston variously presented and participated in a wide range of BBC radio and television programmes. These included radio programmes such as "
In Town Tonight", " Down Your Way", " Trivia Test Match", and the Royal Command Performanceof "The Good Life". He also commentated on events like the funeral of King George VI, the coronation of Elizabeth II and the wedding of HRH The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Brian was also for several years one of the presenters of the Channel 4 magazine programme for the over sixties "Years Ahead" along with Robert Dougall, Zena Skinner and Paul Lewis.
Brian Johnston was a great fan of the British Music Hall and revelled in its often mildly risqué "schoolboy" humour. The "An Evening with Johnners" one-man show that he performed at the end of his life included many excruciating jokes, as well as his broadcasting and cricket reminisces.
He was appointed
OBEin 1983 and CBEin 1991.
*(Autobiography) "It's Been a Lot of Fun", was published by WH Allen in 1974, with an updated version appearing in 1985.
*(Autobiography) "Someone who was; reflections on a life of happiness and fun" First published by Methuen in 1992 with reprints in the same year [Taken from the book in question]
* "Let's Go Somewhere"
* "Stumped for a Tale"
* "The Wit of Cricket"
* "Armchair Cricket" - co-author with
Roy Webber[First published BBC(British Broadcasting Corporation) - No date given. but Circa 1960 in small paperback]
* "It's a Funny Game"
* "Rain Stops Play"
* "Brian Johnston's Guide to Cricket"
* "Brian Johnston's Down Your Way"
* "45 Summers"
* "More Views From the Boundary: Celebrity Interviews from the Commentary Box" Edited by Peter Baxter. [A Book published by Methuen in 1933 and reprinted several times and sub-titled "BBC test Match Special"]
* "Summer Will Never Be The Same: A Tribute to Brian Johnston" Edited by Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Pat Gibson [First published by Partridge Press (UK) and reprinted several times in 1994]
Johnston's informal and humorous style was very popular. When he died on 5 January 1994 [GRO Register of Deaths: JAN 1994 B29C 7 WESTMINSTER - Brian Alexander Johnston, DoB = 24 Jun 1912 aged 81] , a month after suffering a massive
heart attack, the Daily Telegraphdescribed him as "the greatest natural broadcaster of them all" and John Major, the British Prime Ministerand cricket fan, said that "Summers simply won't be the same without him". Brian Johnston’s memorial service was held at a packed Westminster Abbeyon 16 May 1994. Over 2,000 people were present. The following year the Brian Johnston Memorial Trust was established to promote cricket in schools and youth clubs, to help young cricketers in need of financial support, and to further disabled cricket. The trust is now part of the Lord's Taverners.
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/cricket/test_match_special/legends/2939054.stm BBC Test Match Special Legends]
* [http://www.johnners.com Official Brian Johnston web site]
* [http://www.blindcricket.org.uk/ Blind Cricket, of which Brian was a supporter]
* [http://www.lordstaverners.org/about/bjmt_history.asp Brian Johnston Memorial Trust]
* Heald, Tim (1995). "Brian Johnston: The Authorised Biography", Methuen. ISBN 0-413-69320-1.
NAME = Johnston, Brian
ALTERNATIVE NAMES =
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Commentator, Cricket commentator
DATE OF BIRTH =
PLACE OF BIRTH =
Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England
DATE OF DEATH =
PLACE OF DEATH =
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