Fred Macaulay : Gaelic broadcaster and BBC executive

Pioneering Gaelic broadcaster and BBC management executive Fred Macaulay has died in hospital in Inverness, aged 78.

Macaulay joined the BBC’s two-man, two-secretary Gaelic department in Glasgow in 1954 and began a gentle and quiet revolution.

By the time he succeeded Hugh MacPhee as head of Gaelic in 1964, he had worked out that VHF transmission would be the language’s broadcasting future, whatever immediate short-comings it might have.

In the next 10 years, much of them under Alasdair Milne’s time as controller of BBC Scotland, he explored and expanded the needs and range of Gaelic programming, encouraging young production talent into his camp, and opening strands of current affairs programming and developing television shows.

Three of his protŽgŽs – Neil Fraser, Martin Macdonald and John Alec Macpherson – went on to build impressive reputations in radio and TV broadcasting, journalism and public relations.

Milne, later to become director general of the BBC, wrote in The Scotsman: “The Gaelic language and its culture meant everything to Fred and he was a famous perfectionist -sloppy grammar and bad pronunciation drawing terrible wrath.”

Prior to his retirement in 1984, he latterly took his command of Gaelic programming to Inverness as manager of the bilingual Radio Highland station.

Macaulay is survived by his widow, Sybil, a son and two daughters.

Hamish Mackay

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