I was privileged to attend the Service of Thanksgiving for Barrie Edgar at St George’s Church, Edgbaston, this afternoon. It was a celebration of his fantastically long and fruitful life, although tinged with a little bit of sadness.
Barrie died on the 28 Dec 2012 at the Sunrise Retirement Home, just across the road from St George’s, where he’d lived since the death of his wife in 2005. St George’s was also the church where Barrie and Joan were married in October 1943, so it was a fitting location.
The pews of the church were well filled, and I recognised a good number of Pebble Mill faces, including Steve Weddle, Tom Ross, Tony Rayner, Kay Alexander and John Couzens.
There were a variety of readings from members of Barrie’s family, and a moving eulogy from his son, playwright, David Edgar. We learnt how Barrie had served with the Fleet Air Arm during during World War II, which included flying a Walrus Seaplane and picking up stranded Allied soldiers from the Channel during D-Day! After the war he applied to join the BBC, and came up to BBC Birmingham as an outside broadcast producer in the 1950s. David made the point that his father had the privilege of being a generalist producer, in a way which couldn’t happen today. He produced a wide variety of programmes, and was sad to lose some of them to specialist departments, like the ‘Carols from Kings College’, to Music, and ‘Songs of Praise’ to Religion. Apparently he didn’t approve of the revamped ‘Strictly’ version of his ‘Come Dancing’ series, but it was ‘Gardeners’ World’ where his heart really lay. A keen gardener himself, he produced 225 episodes of the programme, first with Percy Thrower presenting, and later with Peter Seabrook. Barrie retired from BBC Pebble Mill in 1979, but carried on tending the Pebble Mill garden on a voluntary basis until the mid 1980s.
Barrie was a producer of popular factual programmes, and it is perhaps fitting that his life spanned the era of network factual programmes being made at BBC Birmingham.
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:
Keith Brook: ‘I would love to have been there to commemorate his life. Barrie was one of those cool customers that every programme should have. He brought many talents to the table unlike the mono-talented or even zero-talented that we have today. However, despite what others have said about his television skills, by far his greatest talent was mixing rum punch. A lethal concoction of reindeer piss and sundry liquids from his compost heap. Great fun. Thanks Barrie. It was a delight to have worked with you.’
Lynn Cullimore: ‘A real gentleman of the sort that we miss in this day and age.’