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Barry Robbins
Barry on stage in a recent production,
arguing with a co-star


Barry joined Radio Guy's in 1981 following a phone call from his old school chum Ross Patterson.  Ross and Barry had dabbled with pirate radio at their boarding school in Kent the year before, and probably had their biggest (captive) audience ever.  They broadcast  (as ‘Radio Acorn’) very dodgy, mostly pre-recorded shows on a tiny Ross-made transmitter (on 108 Mhz) with some suitably naff home-made jingles in between.  The audience were given strict instructions after morning assembly by the school Prefects, to listen at the given hour, or else…!

After leaving School, Ross made the call to Guy's and went to check the place out, inviting Barry up soon after.  Those were the days!  Mike Smith; Colum Ryan; Ron McGeary (did he ever finish builing that vocoder?), Dave Beard, Paul Houslop (evenin’ all), Ray Button, Alan Pleasants, Geoff Coe, Sian (mine’s a cappucino) Roberts, the late, great John Spencer (“If you like country music on your radio…”) Alison Craig (“in your ear ’oles now”), Terry Taylor (“with music just for YOU!”), John Atkinson, Richard Young, John Pennell, Paula Kerr (pronounced ‘CAR’), Dave Parker, Danny Pietroni etc. (‘…and anyone else who knows me’). 

For Barry, this place was heaven.  A great team of talented jocks and some really inspiring techy-types who knew how to work wonders with the desk and who were able to make glorious sounds from a reel of TDK, some lengths of sticky tape, a razor blade, some yellow leader tape and a microphone.  All that professional gear and REAL jingle machines playing proper cartridges!  And what a music collection!

It wasn’t long before Barry and Ross (having taken the ‘knowledge’ - the obligatory Houslop Certificate of Competence) were allowed to play (sorry, operate) the fabulous new equipment.  Some to-die-for TEAC 4 track machines and those superb Technics record decks (with washing machine-like instant start motors), soon had us spending literally hours (no, make that DAYS) tinkering with Michael Jackson Mega-Mixes (Ross) and 12 part harmony, 10 minute jingle masterpieces (Barry).  For several years in the early 1980’s Barry (and Ross) lived and breathed Radio Guys.  Barry was involved in a number of interesting shows – “Reporting Guys” (with Ross and Barry bravely doing daring Vox Pop interviews each week at Piccadilly Circus on the burning topic of the day, racing back to the studio and editing it all together ready for the 30 minute slot at 7pm); the Radio Guys chart countdown (of course it wasn’t fixed!); a classical music show (Classic-FM stole my format, the buggers); “Prize Guys” (Cue Jingle: “There comes a time on a Thursday evening, your chance to win a prize, Ross, Mike and Barry they have the questions, that’s why they’re called the Prize Guys” - with Ross and Barry worrying the patients up on Braxton Hicks and poor Mike Smith doing a sterling job as an anchor (I said ‘anchor’) in the studio… There were other shows too, so memorable, he’s forgotten them.

Then there was a series of ‘celebrity’ interviews arranged by Paula, which included a wonderful opportunity to meet Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) at his home near Camberwell.  Danny Pietroni arranged it (his dad was Terry’s GP) and good old Paula did the research for Barry.

Having exchanged pre-interview pleasantries with Terry and started his Marrantz reporter’s tape-recorder, Barry got down to the opening question and looked down at Paula’s carefully prepared notes which referred to various activities at his University.

“So”, Barry says confidently, “what was it like being in the Cambridge Footlights then?”

Deathly silence from Terry (with sound of Paula shuffling uncomfortably in the background).

Terry breaks the silence with a rather brief response: “I went to Oxford.”

Further deathly silence, this time from Barry (sound of Paula shuffling even more uncomfortably in the background).  “We can edit that out,” says Barry, who takes control of the situation and blunders ahead with the interview discarding the reams of research notes, “tell me about you new film…”.

Another interview with Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman at Capital’s Euston Tower had him arrive there with a really splitting headache.  Not to worry, says Fluff, who proceeds to give Barry a full neck, shoulder and scalp massage (I think he enjoyed it much more than I did! - Barry).  

A mortgage in 1984, marriage to Caroline in 1986 and the arrival of the first of 3 children in 1987, meant that priorities were changing, and Barry wanted to spend more time with his family.  Consequently, the all-night mixing and editing tailed off, especially as his responsibilities at work increased along with the hours.  Then at the end of the 80’s Barry’s job relocated to the South Coast and he moved the family to a town on the edge of the New Forest.  He works for JPMorgan Chase, the American Bank, in ‘financial messaging’ (don’t ask) as an operations manager in their global technology & operations centre in Bournemouth.

Nowadays, the outlet for his creativity and show-offishness is the stage.  He’s chairman of Fordingbridge’s amateur dramatic society, The Victoria Players, and enjoys acting.  He’s still potty about music, sound and radio and his one big regret about living where he does, is the relative lack of  good radio stations in the area.  He’s recently been forced to admit that he listens to Radio 2 a fair bit and is even vaguely familiar with the story line of ‘The Archers’… (surely not?)

He lives in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, on the western edge of the New Forest, with Caroline, Hannah (16), Katharine (14) and Oliver (11), their Springer Spaniel (Judy) and Hamster (Dottie); and would welcome contact from any other ex-Radio Guy's folk who plan to visit the area.


October 2002