David Waine 1944-2021- obituary from Jerry Johns

David Waine in 2017

David Waine, who has died at the age of 76, had a career with the BBC spanning 30 years ending as Head of Broadcasting at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham.

After leaving school in 1960 he joined the Newbury Weekly News as a trainee reporter where he remained for five years including a spell as Sports Editor at the age of 18. He left in 1964 to become a freelance reporter covering Reading and South Berkshire for BBC South in Southampton as well as regularly contributing to the Radio 4 Today programme and The World At One, where he was known as ‘Waine of Newbury’. Later he joined the BBC in Bristol as a trainee television journalist. Attachments to Plymouth and BBC Southampton followed. The latter post included a memorable encounter with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor aboard the Queen Mary when he persuaded the reluctant Duke to take part in a three minute interview.

In 1967, he was appointed Programme Organiser at the newly opened BBC Radio Brighton where he launched the career of sports presenter Des Lynham and also presented a lunchtime show. He became Manager of BBC Radio Bristol in 1970 where he nurtured new talent including Kate Adie, Michael Buerk and Jenni Murray and was appointed Regional Television Manager, BBC South West, at Plymouth in 1978 .
In 1983 David Waine was appointed Head of Network Production Centre at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham, later Head of Broadcasting, BBC in the Midlands, overseeing network television and radio output as well as regional television and local radio for the Midlands. Pebble Mill had already established a reputation for quality television drama output, including and Boys From The Blackstuff. Later productions included the acclaimed Martin Chuzzlewit and popular Howard’s Way; other popular television series included Top Gear, Pot Black and the daytime Pebble Mill At One. Network radio drama included the long-running Radio 4 drama serial The Archers. The Birmingham broadcasting centre contained an element of almost every domestic BBC output at the time, based around four specialisms: drama, daytime, ethnicity and leisure. Under David’s leadership, programmes such as BBC 1 Countryfile and The Clothes Show were launched and developed commercial enterprises. He also set up the BBC’s first multicultural programme unit to provide output reflecting Asian and African-Caribbean culture. He had a capacity for spotting and nurturing talent in others. David’s experience and understanding of radio meant that he was strongly supportive of his local and network departments whilst maintaining a lively interest in the fortunes of the BBC in the Midlands. On his watch network radio output trebled to 3,500 hours per year with Pebble Mill becoming the principal provider of programmes to Radio 2 and 5 outside London whilst providing award winning programming in rural affairs, the environment, food, radio drama and music programmes to Radios 2,3,4 and 5. Three new local radio stations serving Shropshire, Warwickshire and Hereford and Worcester were opened and the audience success of Radio WM secured the future of BBC big city radio not only in Birmingham but in London and Manchester too. David’s recognition of the need for Asian radio programming was also important in saving the frequencies and in finding funding for the BBC Midland Asian Network which launched in 1989 and was the precursor to today’s national Asian Network station.
He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 1993. He was President of the Birmingham Press Club, a director of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 1993 until 2001. After taking early retirement from the BBC in September 1994, he devoted his time to advising local commercial radio franchise bids.
David is survived by his wife, Liz, who he married in 1966 and daughter Nicola.
David Michael Waine, born 12 June 1944; died 25 January 2021.
Jerry Johns
6 comments on “David Waine 1944-2021- obituary from Jerry Johns
  1. David was my boss at pebble mill for the three years I was there. A very nice man and always dedicated to the BBC, he will be missed

  2. I was David’s secretary at BBC Radio Bristol from 1970-1972. He was the most wonderful boss to us all, dedicated, inspiring, forward thinking and funny, he was a great mimic. I emigrated to Australia in 1972 but we kept in touch by email a few times a year and I will miss hearing from him.

  3. I was appointed by David Waine and Tony Inchley to be the first female and Asian chair of BBC local radio, and went on to become chair of the Asian Network, having been involved with securing the license for the station. I remember my days at Pebble Mill with fondness – David was such an an innovator, and he was very supportive and charming! He will be sadly missed.

  4. I always enjoyed chatting with David on the fifth floor at Pebble Mill, after joining the Top Gear production team. A wonderful man.

  5. David Waine was an inspirational leader who tackled me one day on the size of the audience of “Farming”. Net result – John Kenyon, Martin Small and I devised the brief for “Countryfile” that Michael Grade, CBBC1, bought. Very successful! I went to “Top Gear” with Jon Bentley…
    Very sad loss – just 2 months older than me!

  6. Thanks for your comments Ken, and apologies for misspelling your surname. I’ll sort that out now. Best wishes, Vanessa

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