Few broadcasters are more fondly remembered than Ray Moore, who entertained millions of listeners for years with his regular early morning show on Radio 2.
Ray looked after the 5 to 7.30am slot throughout the seventies and eighties in his uniquely special way. He was one of the highlights of radio, even managing to make travel forecasts and sports reports entertaining.
Common Moore references included "Gatport Airwick", "Moore's 'Orse", "Old Moore's Alma Nag" (a pun on the name of his beloved wife, Alma) and referring to a fellow broadcaster, "the Truckers' Flussey" (Sheila Tracey).
Part of his appeal came from the fact that he was a very good (and if necessary) serious broadcaster. For years he carried out a dual role, his Liverpool accent entertaining in the mornings, while Ray's more "proper" BBC voice was reserved for continuity announcements throughout the seventies and into the eighties. He was also the voice behind Come Dancing, Miss World and of the Eurovision Song Contest, in which we got the best of both worlds, both Ray's "best BBC voice" and Ray the supreme entertainer.
He also featured on a number of other shows for Radio 2, such as his Monday Movie Quiz, and interviewed a number of leading artists, including legendary singer Johnny Mathis.
In the late 1960s he presented "String Sound", featuring the BBC Radio Orchestra. The show continued for a further two decades, with a string of popular broadcasters: Radio 2 favourite Bill Rennells, current early morning presenter Sarah Kennedy, plus Jean Challis and Hilary Obsborne all presented this show. The show came to an end around the same time as Ray passed away. The station subsequently changed direction, and one wonders if Ray was still with us if much of the charm of Radio 2 of old would still be too.
But it is the morning shows that so many of us recall, and miss. It really was worth waking up an hour early just to hear Ray, as he managed to create a special, funny, radio world of his own which his many devoted listeners loved to be part of. Many will recall "O' My Father Had A Rabbit", the funny little poem he used to read out from time to time, which he later released as a UK record, all proceeds going to the BBC's Children in Need appeal. It went to number 24 in the UK charts:
"O' My Father had a rabbit
And he thought it was a duck
So he stuck it on the table
With its legs cocked up
He mixed a bowl of stuffing
And left it on the shelf
But when he came to stuff the duck
The duck had stuffed itself"
Terry Wogan said of his record "It makes the Floral Dance sound like Wagner's ring cycle".
Each of Ray's shows was a magical performance, but Ray never used a script and just about all of his witticisms were ad-libs. As Ray once commented, "do you think I'd write this rubbish down?".
We would love to hear more of Ray again, and a repeat some of his fantastic early morning shows would be something many of us would love to hear. A short clip from 1987 is available in the links section to the right of this page, which provides a small taster of the magic that was Ray Moore. If anyone has retained any recordings of Ray Moore's shows we would love to hear from you - please click here
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Today's radio is not the same without Ray. The likes of him may never pass this way again, but his memory will live on among those who were caught under his spell, for a very long time.
By 1966 he was heard nationally presenting ‘Pop North’ for the BBC Light Programme and was hired as an announcer/newsreader for the launch of BBC Radio Two. Starting with Breakfast Special and including such outings as ‘Ray Moore’s Saturday Night’ he developed his role from announcer to that of a personality broadcaster and in 1973 took on a new life as a freelancer.
Most famously, he hosted the early morning show on BBC Radio 2 as its regular present throughout the 1980s.
In 1986 and 1987, thousands of early morning joggers joined Ray for the two 'Bog-eyed Jog' events held in sporting stadia across the UK in aid of Children in Need. In association with these events, he released two records: Oh My Father Had A Rabbit spent seven weeks in the UK charts in 1986, reaching number 24; the follow-up, The Bog-Eyed Jog, went to number 61.
In 1987 Ray Moore contracted throat cancer. He published an autobiography - 'Tomorrow is Too Late', which was followed up by a joint written book with his wife Alma, entitled "Tommorrow - Who Knows".
Ray died on January 11, 1989 at the age of 47.
In 1989 he won the Outstanding Personal Contribution to Radio award from the Broadcasting Press Guild.