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Seymour Joly de Lotbiniere CVO (21 October 1905-6 November 1984) known as ‘Lobby’ was a Director of the British Broadcasting Corporation and pioneer of outside broadcasts. He is recognised as developing the technique of sports commentary on radio and subsequently television, and he masterminded the televising of the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Christopher Martin-Jenkins wrote of him that he was a towering figure both physically and mentally, the "physically" referring to his height of six feet eight inches.

De Lotbiniere was the second son of Brigadier-General Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (1868-1960) D.S.O., and his wife Mildred Louisa, daughter of Charles Seymour Grenfell J.P., of Carshalton. His grandfather, Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, was Premier of the Canadian province of Quebec, a federal Cabinet minister, and Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.

He was educated at St Cyprian's School, Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He practised as a member of the Chancery Bar before joining the BBC in 1932.

He was the BBC's director of outside broadcasting from 1935 to 1940. After receiving its Royal Charter in 1926, the BBC had been innovative technically in broadcasting sporting events, but its commentators were largely untrained and often unskilled in the art of broadcasting. Lobby introduced modern methods of commentary, dispensing with the dependence on maps and grids published in the Radio Times to assist the listener. He also realised that ball-by-ball cricket commentary could make compelling radio and in the mid-1930s got Howard Marshall to begin commentating on cricket, rather than only giving reports. In addition to sporting events, de Lotbiniere was also in charge of the embryonic televising of the 1937 Coronation of King George VI. After an interruption during World War II, de Lotbiniere resumed his post as director of outside broadcasting in 1945 remaining until the mid-1950s. During this time he oversaw firstly the televising of the 1948 Summer Olympics, and secondly and most importantly the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This was the BBC’s most ambitious undertaking with over seven hours continuous coverage for an audience of over 20 million people and was one of the most formative events in the history of British Television.

In 1968, shortly before his retirement, de Lotbiniere bought back Brandon Hall, Suffolk which had originally been purchased by his father after service with the Canadian Army in World War I and sold after his death in 1960. As a child he had been attracted by Brandon's history. He and his brother had taken torches and ropes to Grimes Graves to explore the pits long before they were opened for public inspection. He became the owner of a private gunflint museum and took a specialist interest in gun flints.

De Lotbiniere’s only child, a son Henry was born in 1945. He was a barrister, who suffered severe facial disfigurement caused by cancer. He defied the disease by carrying on working, and openly showing his pleasure in being alive. He became widely familiar when his portrait was painted by the young Glaswegian artist Mark Gilbert.

Publications

  • Gunflint recognition International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 13 (3), 206–209.
  • Introduction to S.B.J. Sketchley The Manufacture of Gunflints

References

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Anne Pimlott Baker, Joly de Lotbiniere, Seymour (1905–1984), Sept 2004,
  • Tony Currie A Concise History of British Television 1930-2000 Kelly Publications ISBN 190305317X
  • Richard Haynes Seymour de Lotbiniere and the formative years of Modern Sports Commentary UNESCO Media Communication, Information International Conference Celebrating 50 years of theories and practice 23-25 July 2007-12-13 Abstracts
  • Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Ball by Ball - The Story of Cricket Broadcasting, Grafton Books, 1990, ISBN 0-246-13568-9, pp 52-3
  • The Empire Club of Canada Speeches 1943-1944 (Toronto, Canada: The Empire Club of Canada, 1944), pp 442-458 (Introduction to a speech by de Lotbinière, available online at [1])

External links

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