John Lord – television teacher No. 1

From the TVTimes published 5 April 1957

John Lord has founded a new profession. He is the first TV teacher in Britain. There will be others, of course. But John Lord was the first “presenter” to be chosen for the experimental 8-week term of school broadcasts which will begin in May.

He is 32 years old, married to a girl named Alison, and there are 16-month-old twins — Annette and Nicholas. Annette is the elder, by 20 minutes.

John Lord has an Oxford B.A. and is the senior English master at Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green, Essex, which is a direct-grant school under the trusteeship of the Drapers’ Company.

The series he will be presenting in the school broadcasts is designed to lead children to a better understanding and appreciation of poetry and the ballad tradition. It will also encourage them to create their own ballads.

This is Lord’s first association with television. If was, of course, education which attracted him. He read in the newspapers of Associated-Rediffusion’s venture into school broadcasts, and was inspired to write to Television House with suggestions for scripts.

Surprisingly, the reply was an invitation to appear before the cameras for an audition. But quiet-spoken John Lord was game for anything.

John Lord, his wife, Alison, and the twins

I watched that audition. Lord made no mistakes. He sailed confidently, quietly, without hesitation, through a long interview. There were no “ers” and “ums.”

John Lord — he was born in Rochdale and served with the Cameron Highlanders during the war, finishing as a staff captain — is now caught up in the enthusiasm of the school broadcasting section. But when he came for the audition he wasn’t really worried whether he got the job or not.

“You see,” John told me, “I am not a hungry man. I’ve got a good job.

“But now that I’m in there, now the cameras are there, now that I’ve tasted blood, I’m excited. It’s great fun, and the beauty of it all is that it is also, I believe, something worthwhile.”

What are his personal beliefs about school broadcasts?

“I think it has an immense potential. Television is a very good medium for communicating things… it is an art form. It will, however, never replace personal contact. It can only help the teacher.”

But about being the first TV teacher in Britain he has only this to say:

“I feel very happy — and very lucky.”

His pupils have not yet heard that their master is to be a TV personality, and he finds it hard to imagine their reactions when they do. He has little doubt, however, about what will happen when Daddy is seen on TV by the twins — whom he describes thus: “They’re murder.”

“They will probably,” he says, “batter the screen to pieces.”

Author: Ambrose Willett

Ambrose Willett was a feature writer for the TVTimes