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Tuesday, 6 July 2010






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English Presenters over the then Radio Ceylon

Malinda Seneviratne is like my son for he and my older son were schoolmates and co-scouts at Royal during the1980s.

Therefore I take the liberty to call him my son anfd his father the former civil service administrator and poet Gamini Seneviratne knows yours truly, I believe.

This week's column however is not about the Seneviratnes but a piece prompted by Malinda's mention about Errol Alphonso in one of his columns to the DN recently. Errol Alphonso was one of my favourite polished English announcers of the then (1950-1970) Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon.

At that time an Australian, Clifford Dodd was at the helm. He introduced Commercial Broadcasting to our country.

When neighbouring India was yet to introduce that kind of broadcast little Lanka became very famous in South, South East Asia, Middle East and even some parts of Africa as evidenced by special beams to such regions.

Dodd was ably assisted by Lankans Tim Horshington ( I believe he was from the North) and Livy Wijemanne who moved from the National Service to the Commercial Service later. Vernon Corea, Greg Rozkowski (Polish-Japanese), Karl Goonasena ( stage actor and brother of cricketer Gamini Goonasena), Jimmy Bharucha (a Lankan Farzi), Eardley Pieris, Percy Bartholemeuz, Norton Pereira, Ronald Campbell, Errol Alphonso, Geoff Fruigtneth, Prosper Fernando ( who moved to become a Sinhala announcer), Sita Jayawardene (Parakrama), Perin Rustomjee (Lankan Farzi), Rohna Candappa, Dan Durairaj ( who was also the first Tamil commercial announcer), Shirley Perera, Myrl Walpola (Williams) Vijaya Corea, Leon Bellath, Nihal Bharathi, Stephen Alagaratnam, V Rajendra , Noeline Honter, Harold Fernando, Bevil Pallihawadne, Dudley Jansz, Mahinda Wijesundara and a few more came over the airwaves of the commercial service then.

I am talking about only the early announcers over Radio Ceylon's commercial service.

The newconers on the English Service after the 1970s perhaps include some veterans like Indrani Senanayake, Niranjan Abeysundara, Kumar Samuel, Chris Bandara, Carryl Sella, Sounthi, Virangika and a few others.

I haven't had the chanc to listen to them often these days. Me too as relief presenter over the English service miss lot of airtime.

While the above entertained the listeners who looked forward to listen to their presentation and the right pronunciation, the National Service of Radio Ceylon also had veterans in the like of Livy Wijemana, Myrl Swan, Chris Tambimuttu, David, Joseph Mather, Mark Antony Fernando, Priya Samarajeeva, Alfreda de Silva (presenter of Teenage Leisure), Sujata Jayawardena, Dayananda de Silva, Mervyn Jayasuriya, Mihelle Berenger and a few others as exemplory broadcasters.

As from my teenage I developed a taste for broadcasting, particularly in English , and must say by listening to them I noticed how English words should be pronounced.

Let's come back to Errol Alphonso. Like Eardley Pieris of an earlier vintage, Errol attracted my attention for his novel way of presentation. He was so knowledgeable on many matters. He had a pleasant voice and an enunciation not hurriedly uttered with the nuances of the words and their meanings come alive.. I was longing to meet him. At that time he was relief announcer, I think. And I wasn't working for the SLBC permanently then.

The opportunity came when I met him at a place where my friend and Tamil poet and critic, the late Sillayoor Selvarajan also worked.

The place was at Galle Face Court housing J Walter Thompson advertising agency. Silayoor introduced me to him. We became friends.

Some years back I used to see him at the cafeterias in the Majestic City, but of late I have lost contact with him although we corresponded by email for a while. Malinda's piece has brought tears in my eyes. i don't know why.

After Thought

The tendency to forget names is natural you would agree, and therefore am hoping it would be excused. After I finished writing this column the following important names came to my memory.

National Service: Chitra Malalasekera, Delorine Brohier, Tommy Perera, Mahes Perera, Cyril Lawrence, Anton Pereira.

Commercial Service:

Mil Sansoni



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