Much-travelled broadcaster Bill Buckley to put Radio Devon on the road
HAVE voice, will travel – no longer. Globe-trotting broadcaster Bill Buckley is quitting life on the road... to put Devon on the road.
The veteran BBC man's career spans consumer programme That's Life! in the 1980s, through the Holiday programme to fill-in slots on a string of the corporation's local radio stations for the last two and a half years.
Now the much-travelled journalist is parking in Devon to present a new "drive time" early evening show on the county station from today.
Bill, 54, said he would miss the thrilling pressure of pitching up at new stations to make programmes in areas he did not know.
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But he added: "I will enjoy the chance to bed down at Radio Devon. I really like the audience and my colleagues."
He has previously sat in for presenters Judi Spiers and John Govier and on The Herald columnist David Fitzgerald's Interactive Lunch. He spent one summer presenting the BBC South West news programme, Spotlight.
He said he looked forward to getting his audience involved. "Some loved me, some found me a bit abrasive. Either way, there will be quite a lot of phone-ins."
Listeners can also expect to learn more about their new presenter: Bill has a reputation for making the personal public.
He revealed in a national newspaper that he had surgery to remove his "moobs" – man boobs.
And in an interview for a local station on which he was working he talked about growing up gay and how his parents' prejudice led him to a "half-hearted" suicide attempt.
"A certain Irish broadcaster was said to have never had an unbroadcast thought," Bill told The Herald.
"I veer towards that. It might sound sanctimonious, but I believe if you can help people by using stuff from your own life, you should do.
"I can say, 'you dread taking your shirt off at the beach, but did you know you can deal with it and be set free to have the average man's body?'."
He entered into a civil partnership with Philippines-born nurse Rommel in 2011.
One disadvantage of his wandering broadcaster lifestyle was "we have never lived like a proper married couple yet. That is something we have yet to sort out."
Bill became a familiar face to millions of TV viewers when he joined Esther Rantzen as a co-presenter on prime-time Sunday television on BBC1 in 1982.
He had been working on a local newspaper in his native West Midlands when he got the plum job. "It was great fun and the hardest I have ever worked," he said.
"I was a 23-year-old local newspaper reporter one day, the next I was addressing 15 million viewers down the camera.
"I studied at the university of Esther. She has forgotten more about TV than I will ever learn in my life and I am very, very, very grateful to her."
After leaving That's Life! in 1985 his television career included travelling the world as a reporter for the Holiday programme. His favourite destination is India, "the most vibrant, colourful and shocking place, where the people had virtually nothing but were willing to share half of what little they had with you".
He went on to present for many commercial and BBC stations in the south, London and Manchester and as a continuity announcer for Channel 5.
Bill's other talents include music. He has performed in professional stage musicals including the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Bill wrote the song Starting Together, which the Hi-de-Hi! sitcom actress Su Pollard took to Number 2 in the charts in 1986.
He is also a food writer who has cooked and been a judge on several TV and radio programmes.
He said he was looking forward to doing "extensive research" to discover the best pasties in Devon and Cornwall. As a new arrival, he admits to Devonian culinary heresy: "I bat for Cornwall on the cream tea – I prefer to put the cream on top of the jam."
Mark Grinnell, the editor of Radio Devon, said he was delighted to welcome "a well-known name who has long had contacts with the region.
"Every time he has been on the radio we have had a great response from the audience. He is warm, friendly and accessible but can put challenging questions, just what we want from our presenters."
Add "frank" to the list of compliments. Bill admitted, "Devon wasn't on my radar for a permanent job, but I was made a very nice offer and I have connections here."