Frances Coverdale – Radio Birmingham

Copyright resides with the original holder.

Thanks to Annie Gumbley-Williams for making the photo available.

Frances Coverdale was a BBC East Midlands reporter 1977-80, before joining the BBC national news, first as a reporter and then as a presenter.  She also presented Radio 4’s PM programme.  She is currently involved in media training, of people whose jobs require them to be interviewed on camera etc.

I understand that Frances Coverdale was a news presenter at BBC Pebble Mill on Radio Birmingham in the 1970s.

The following comments and information have been added by former colleagues:

Hedli Nik: She was a news reader and the then editor of The Archers. William Smethurst, called a PC in The Archers James Coverdale in her honour! I know this because reader, I married him!

Michael Fisher: Frances was a news producer (i.e. reporter/newsreader/produc​er) with BBC Radio Birmingham when I joined as a News Trainee in 1975. She was the only female reporter and Pete Simpkin might recall that management had to get special arrangements made for her by the RN when she went to do a programme about HMS Birmingham. She drove a flashy convertible sports car. She also took me out on my first murder story: a man’s body found in a coal bunker. She was given the role of presenting the breakfast programme ‘Heart of the Nation’ (possibly along with David Lloyd if memory serves me correctly). Her skills were recognised and she was taken on by Midlands Today, I think, before moving up the ladder to London. She should be credited with being one of the first female reporters to make the breakthrough on national tv in what was still in the late 1970s a very male-dominated newsroom environment. Thanks for all youe help, Frances. in taking a new lad under your wing and showing him how to report.

Pete Simpkin: We were indeed very proud to see her reading the BBC National News on TV for a short time………..she was the second person from BBC Pebble Mill to achieve this, the other being the late Barry Lankester.

Jo Dewar: When I was an News Transmission Assistant on ‘Midlands Today’ I used to sit inbetween Frances Coverdale and Tom Coyne. It was the first time the programme had 2 presenters and autocue … interesting!

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2 Comments

  • Frances Coverdale co-presented News After Noon on BBC1 alongside Richard Whitmore and occasionally Michael Cole, Chris Lowe or Moira. Although Frances continued to work for the BBC beyond October 1986 she didn’t present any television news bulletins and I recall watching an Open University Open Forum programme on BBC2 in the late eighties or early nineties which she hosted.

  • I remember Frances Coverdale referring to Norman Tebbit as the minister for un-employment on the BBC News Channel.
    Was that deliberate or slip of the tongue?

    I liked her news presentation which was crisp and had a freshness generally missing from current presenters.

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