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John Snagge

Reading the news c1944
Born 8 May 1904(1904-05-08)
Chelsea, London, England
Died 25 March 1996 (aged 91)
Buckinghamshire, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Other names John Derrick Mordaunt Snagge
Occupation Commentator and presenter
Known for Sport commentary

John Derrick Mordaunt Snagge OBE (8 May 1904 – 25 March 1996) was a long-time British newsreader and commentator on BBC Radio.

Born in Chelsea, London, he was educated at Winchester College and Pembroke College, Oxford, where he obtained a degree in law. He then joined the BBC, taking up the position of assistant director at Stoke-on-Trent's new local radio station. He broadcast his first sports commentary (of a Hull City versus Stoke City football match) in January 1927, after the BBC obtained the rights to cover major sporting events.

In 1928, Snagge was transferred to London to work as one of the BBC's main announcers alongside Stuart Hibberd. From 1931 until 1980, he commentated on the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. He provided commentary for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and again in 1953 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

At the start of World War II, Snagge was made the BBC's presentation director and delivered important radio announcements as the war unfolded. By the time of the D-Day landings in 1944, he was presenting the magazine programme War Report which featured regular news from the beaches of Normandy.

In the early 1950s, Snagge played a role in negotiations that led to the radio comedy series The Goon Show being commissioned by the BBC. He was also the subject of many running gags during the show, and provided many self-parodying announcements, usually recorded. He also featured as himself in the episode The Greenslade Story, alongside regular announcer Wallace Greenslade. He was a defender of the show against many efforts to cancel it, even to staking his career on it. Later, in the 1970s, he echoed his wartime role by appearing as the newsreader in the radio version of Dad's Army.

On 5 July 1954, John Snagge read the first BBC television news bulletin.

He appeared as himself in the 1960 TV Hancock's Half Hour episode, 'The East Cheam Centenary', where he commentates on the street 'procession', from Hancock's bedroom at 23 Railway Cuttings.

Snagge retired in 1965, but continued to provide commentaries for the Boat Race until 1980. Around this time he also appeared on Noel Edmonds' Radio 1 show on Sunday mornings, a role subsequently taken up by Brian Perkins.

During the 1949 University Boat Race Snagge's voice filled with excitement and he reported: "I can't see who's in the lead but it's either Oxford or Cambridge".

John Snagge died from throat cancer in 1996, aged 91.


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