Listening to Charlotte Green talk for an hour on any subject is an enjoyable way to spend any afternoon, but hearing her talk about her long and distinguished career as a newsreader for the BBC is definitely one of life’s great pleasures.
Green’s life story is interesting, but when she talks about her time at the BBC it becomes fascinating.
As a one-off talk put on by the Assembly Rooms, Green talks about her life as a child reading the newspaper out loud so her sister would deliberately play the piano to drown her out, her time as an actor while at school, and of course her time with Radio 4 at the BBC.
Green’s life story is interesting, but when she talks about her time at the BBC it becomes fascinating. She tells stories about her time working with her friend and mentor Laurie MacMillan with delightful nostalgia. The insight gained when hearing her talk about the smoke-filled newsroom of the 1980s is exceptionally interesting, and of course is told with that voice.
The highlight of the whole talk is without doubt the brief but very moving anecdote about how the newsroom and Green coped with the 7/7 bombings in London, including when Green described the moment she had to evacuate Television Centre after a credible bomb threat.
With stories about the Today Programme, the News Quiz, and the Shipping Forecast, this was a talk aimed at lovers of Radio 4. For those who love the news-based radio station the most pertinent piece of analysis came right at the end of the talk. An audience member asked Green about the upcoming renewal of the BBC charter, and with the BBC under threat from the Murdoch news empire, the response that the loss of the BBC would be “an act of cultural vandalism” managed to sum up the importance and the connection she has with the place she made her name.