Thursday, 14 April 2011

And they’re off!

Raymond Glendenning: the unmistakeable voice that brought Ascot to life on the BBC

Part 4 in our occasional series of retrospective photographs from the past 300 years of Ascot history looks back at legendary commentator Raymond Glendenning.

There are not only faces of Ascot but voices too, and Raymond Glendenning’s was one of the most evocative in horseracing. Glendenning in fact provided the audio backdrop to many other sports in his long career as a BBC radio sports commentator, including every FA Cup Final from 1946-1963, the football World Cup and the Wimbledon Championships.

His distinctive broadcasting style of fast-paced commentary delivered in public school, cut glass tones would eventually fall out of favour as “BBC English” in the 1960s and ‘70s, to be replaced with more regional and less obviously upper or middle class accents. But to hear his commentary today is to be instantly transported to a golden era in sports broadcasting, when racing fans would tune into the wireless for an edge of the seat, dramatic evocation of the excitement of the races. Listening to Glendenning’s thrilling commentary was second only to being at Ascot in person, with the names of horses and jockeys coming faster and faster as the race progressed towards a crescendo as they passed the finishing post.

Glendenning was also instantly recognisable in person at Ascot in the 1940s and ‘50s, sporting the distinctive horn-rimmed spectacles and magnificent handlebar moustache that catch the eye in this image from 1949.

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