Pamela Patterson: veteran of BBC Radio in Scotland

Pamela Patterson, who was for almost 40 years a familiar voice on BBC Radio in Scotland, has died in Glasgow, aged 83.

After dropping out of a medical course at Edinburgh University to specialise in speech therapy, she auditioned for the BBC and was offered the position of assistant announcer for Scotland. Over the years, as staff increased, she was appointed senior announcer for Scotland, and in 1977 she was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.

She was due to retire in April 1979 but stayed on until the end of the year because of the pressure of work.

She was always meticulous in her preparation for a live broadcast, doing her research and working out timings.

On one occasion, when the King of Norway was to attend a concert in Edinburgh, she found out that the king was staying aboard a naval vessel in Leith docks.

Seeking background information, she went to the docks and saw a man in open-necked shirt and casual trousers on deck and asked him a few questions about the king.

Her final question was: “Do you think the king will wear British or Norwegian naval uniform tonight?” The response: “I haven’t really thought about it but, now you ask, I think I’ll wear my Norwegian uniform.”

A friend remembers: “Few people at the time were aware of the skill required simply to read the news during World War Two.”

For security reasons, the newsreader was not allowed to see the script in advance, and even as they read the news live on air the censor would be deleting passages, requiring quick thinking and ad libbing to make sense of the story.

Patterson, who never married, spent her last 18 months in residential homes after a series of mishaps in which she broke her hip, leg and wrist which forced her to stop driving, effectively removing her key to freedom.

Hamish Mackay

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