I have eight articles currently, the History of Music, the History of Midi, the History of my Musical Creations, the History of my BBC Micro Music, a Brief History of the Single, Technology and Media in 1996, Autographs and Tomorrow's World - The Jam Spreading Myth.


In the 70s and 80s I used to collect autographs. I would write to many television programmes or presenters asking for a signed photo and I would get a picture back and sometimes a letter. I've scanned in quite a few of the ones I had and I thought I would give some details about how I got them. Don't forget to check out the links in the text to video clips on YouTube.

Blue Peter

I first started with John Noakes and Lesley Judd. I had missed the Peter Purves/Valerie Singleton presenters, but I would write every time a new presenter joined the team. Usually it was one photo per signature, but they sometimes did a group shot and had everybody sign the photo. I was particularly pleased with the the one of Simon Groom with Goldie as a puppy, and when I got the group photo you could see how much Goldie had grown. I also watched Magpie on ITV so I got their autographs as well (I missed getting Susan Strank's autograph though).

Letter from Biddy Baxter John Noakes Lesley Judd
Simon Groom and Goldie Christopher Wenner, Lesley Judd and Simon Groom Simon Groom, Tina Heath and Christopher Wenner Tina Heath Peter Duncan Sarah Greene
Caron Keating, Mark Curry and Janet Ellis
Jenny Hanley Mick Robertson Tommy Boyd

When they announced that Carrie Fisher was going to appear on Blue Peter the following week, I wrote to the team asking for her autograph. It was a pleasant surprise when I got Mark Hamill's as well as he wasn't due to appear on the show. You can see their appearance on Blue Peter via YouTube.

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher Mark Wing-Davy

I also got Mark Wing-Davy's autograph the same way, when they were going to have a item about the mechanical head used for the television series The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, where he played Zaphod Bebblebrox.

I watched a lot of children's TV, so I got Tony Hart (and Morph) from Take Hart, Johnny Ball (from Think of a Number) and the Swap Shop team, along with one of the Swap Shop stickers.

Tony Hart Morph Johnny Ball John Craven Keith Chegwin Maggie Philbin Noel Edmonds Swap Shop Sticker

I enjoyed comedy, so I started with a few comedians who were on the telly at the time. Les Dawson put a personal note on his, but the photo was folded when I got it in the post. I seem to have two from Matthew Kelly, along with a letter from him. It did get a bit annoying when you asked for a the team's autographs and only get one. Cannon and Ball sent a nice photo (as you can see), and Mike Yarwood sent a good note along with a signed photo.

Les Dawson Ray Allan Mike Yarwood Note from Mike Yarwood. William Franklin Game for A Laugh Team Matthew Kelly Letter from Matthew Kelly Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball

Not The Nine O'Clock News was a favourite programme and I wrote to each member of the classic team individually. It was interesting to see how they all replied. Mel Smith sent a large photo, Pamela Stephenson eventually sent a small picture with a humourous letter from her management company appolgising for the delay, Rowan Atkinson sent a rather strange picture and Griff Rhys Jones didn't have any photos, so sent me a letter explaining that instead.

Mel Smith Letter_from_AMP Pamela Stephenson Rowan Atkinson Letter from Griff Rhys Jones

I have two of Kenny Everett as I wrote to him care of Thames television when he was doing the Kenny Everett Video Show. I knew he was on Capital Radio and I asked for a badge (as I collected them as well) and he wrote back saying that I would have to write to Capital for that, which I duly did.

Kenny Everett Thames Television Compliments Slip Kenny Everett

Trevor Banister and Mollie Sugden opened a knitting store nearby, so I went along to get their autographs. This was one of the few times I actually met the person I was getting the autograph from. The only other time this happened was when I went to a charity event and met Roy Kinnear.

Trevor Bannister and Mollie Sugden

A few musical artists I have include Neil Innes, who had his TV programme the Innes Book of Records on BBC 2. Another personalised autograph and as I had asked about getting the music from the show he replied about the new album (which I bought). Both tracks mentioned in the letter 'Ape Man' and 'Eurovision' appear on the recent collection Le Duck's Box Set released this year as 'Ungawa' and 'Mr. Eurovision'. I haven't included Lene Lovich as she sent a postcard with her signature printed on it, much like Tom Baker did when I wrote to him.

Neil Innes Letter from Neil Innes

I was an avid vinyl collector and one which I has was a 10 inch white vinyl of Basia, who used to sing with Matt Bianco. It had a double groove but I couldn't tell the difference between the two tracks on the one side, so I wrote to her to ask about it. Along with the nice signed photo she sent me a long letter explaining the differences, and Epic Records (her record company) also sent a biography on her.

Basia Letter from Basia Page 1 Letter from Basia Page 2 Basia Biography

The Dean Martin autograph was one I got for my mum. We knew he was performing in the Apollo Victoria theatre in London in 1983 and so wrote to him via them. It was a while until we got a reply by which time he had returned to the USA but he sent the large photo and addressesd to my mum, who was very pleased.

Dean Martin

When I wrote to people I would always say that I enjoyed seeing them on whatever programme they were on, and this applied to the newscasters as well. I got a personal reply from Richard Baker, and a short letter from Anna Ford saying she was glad that I enjoyed watching News at Ten!

Richard Whitmore and Moira Stuart Richard Baker Angela Rippon Jan Leeming Anna Ford Letter from Anna Ford
Doctor Who

Now I was a bit disappointed when I wrote to Tom Baker to get his autograph as I got back a postcard with his signature printed on it, so it wasn't genuine, but when I tried again with Peter Davison I got a reply from his management company giving details of him appearing in Holding the Fort and Sink or Swim as well as Doctor Who. He was a busy actor at the time!

Tom Baker Peter Davison Letter from John Mahoney Management
Disc Jockeys

I wrote to several DJs, saying I listened to their show, but if I had done I wouldn't have had time to do anything else. Radio 2 had a standard format of a large black and white picture, which didn't really leave much room for an actual signature. Some DJs were under their own management company and had colour photos.

Dave Lee Travis David Hamilton Jimmy Saville Mike Read Paul Gambaccini Peter Powell Pete Murray Terry Wogan Tony Blackburn
Prime Ministers

I only got two, Jim Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher and I think I wrote the same letter to both, saying our family were Labour/Conservative supporters (delete as applicable). The personal note from Margaret Thatcher was good, but there's nothing like getting a letter from 10 Downing Street.

Jim Callaghan Letter from 10 Downing Street_2_Feb_1979 Margaret Thatcher Letter from 10 Downing Street Letter from Margaret Thatcher

A special mention should go to the autograph I got of Jenny Agutter. I shall forgive her mispelling my name (as quite a few of the stars did, despite me clearly spelling my name on my letter to them) as she wrote back a lovely letter as well. Her handwriting is most impressive, and she is one of only five people who truly wrote back to me, rather than signing a typed letter.

Jenny Agutter Letter from Jenny Agutter
Everyone else

Breakfast TV had just started so I wrote to the programme and got five colour photos which the team had signed. I tried the same with Tomorrow's World and I got a nice black and white photo of the team but no one actually signed it! I also scanned an old letter I got from Pebble Mill, unfortunately not signed by any of the presenters, thanking me for writing to the programme, with an added note about the Wombles.

Michael Aspel Debbie Rix Francis Wilson Frank Bough Nick Ross Selina Scott Letter from Pebble Mill Tomorrow's World Photo