'Lobby' and the Formative Years of Radio Sports Commentary, 1935-1952



Haynes R (2009) 'Lobby' and the Formative Years of Radio Sports Commentary, 1935-1952. Sport in History, 29 (1), pp. 25-48.

This article traces the professional career and influence on sports broadcasting of Seymour Joly de Lotbiniere, known within the BBC as Lobby. Lobby was the BBC’s Director of Outside Broadcasts from 1935 to 1939, and then again encompassing radio and television from 1946 to 1952, before concentrating on television OBs from 1952-55. He is widely credited with transforming the codes and conventions of radio running commentary as the BBC expanded its radio coverage of sport in the late 1930s and in the immediate post-war years. The article provides a brief biographical sketch of Lobby’s upper-class background and privileged education and how this influenced his eventual career in broadcasting. Drawing on papers held in the BBC Written Archives and on autobiographical accounts of BBC commentators, the article analyses Lobby’s development of the core principles of running commentary, the recruitment and management of commentators and his relations with the producers of sports coverage in Broadcasting House and the BBC’s regional centres. The article concludes that Lobby’s meticulous management and analytical approach to sports commentary had a significant influence on the institutional practices of the BBC’s outside broadcasting department, an influence that continues to reverberate today.

Lobby sports broadcasting; sports commentary; Radio broadcasting of sports; Seymour Joly de Lotbiniere; British Broadcasting Corporation

Sport in History: Volume 29, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2009
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)

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Professor Richard Haynes

Professor Richard Haynes

Professor, Communications, Media and Culture