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