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South Today’s First Face, Martin Muncaster, Passes at 89

Muncaster was the inaugural host of South Today, formerly South at Six, from 1961 to 1964.

Martin Muncaster, the inaugural presenter of the first BBC regional television programme for the south of England, has passed away at the age of 89.

Muncaster hosted the nightly news programme South Today, originally known as South at Six, from 1961 to 1964. Reflecting on his time there, he once described it as a “terrific feeling of starting something brand new” and “one of the happiest times of my whole career.”

He died at his home in Steep, near Petersfield.

Martin Muncaster reads vintage news on Petersfield’s Shine Radio
Martin Muncaster reads vintage news on Petersfield’s Shine Radio

Early Career and Southern TV

In 1958, Muncaster auditioned for a position as a BBC TV in-vision announcer and was initially offered a two-week stint, which extended to several months. Later that year, he auditioned for Roy Rich, then programme controller at Southern TV. Muncaster joined the new ITV company in Southampton before its launch on 30th August 1958, where he worked as an announcer, newsreader, and reporter until 1960. During this period, he was joined by colleagues Meryl O’Keeffe and Julian Pettifer.

Return to the BBC

Muncaster then returned to BBC TV as the first presenter for their local news programme in Southampton. Due to the new studio not being ready at South Western House, he was temporarily assigned to Bristol. There, he worked with renowned figures such as Tom Salmon and reporter Ken Duck.

From 5th January 1961 until 1964, Muncaster presented South at Six, which later became South Today. He became a popular and well-known local celebrity, working alongside colleagues like Valerie Sargeant (later Lady Solti), and staff reporters Ron Allison and Johnny Johnston.

Muncaster’s pioneering work and vibrant presence on screen left a lasting legacy in regional broadcasting. His contributions to local news were foundational, shaping the way regional news was delivered and perceived. He will be remembered fondly by colleagues and viewers alike.

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