On this day in history : 13th October 1904 – The birth of actor and radio presenter Wilfred Pickles – a proud Yorkshire man and the first newsreader to speak on the BBC with a regional accent….

Wilfred Pickles in 1950 – Fair use

Pickles was born and grew up in Halifax – and when his family moved to Southport, Lancashire in 1929 he, now a young man, went with them…. He was to join an amateur dramatic society and here he was to meet Mabel Cecelia Myerscough; they were to marry on the 20th of September 1930 and went on to have one child….

It was during the 1920s that Pickles made his first professional appearance as an actor, at the Theatre Royal in Halifax, as an extra in a production of Julius Caesar…. He was to go on to become a radio celebrity after joining the BBC in 1927…. He was chosen by the BBC as an announcer for their Northern Regional Radio Service during World War 2 – the thinking behind this being that his regional accent would make it harder for the Nazis to impersonate BBC broadcasters….

Pickles made his West End debut in 1946 – and his acting career developed to include films and television…. Also in 1946 he became the host of radio show Have A Go, which ran until 1967…. This hugely popular show, which also featured his wife, brought familiar catchphrases, such as ‘How do, how are yer?’, ‘What’s on the table, Mabel?’, ‘Give him the money Barney’ and ‘Are yer courting?’…. By sharing their innermost secrets contestants could earn £1.19s.11d…. Over 20 million listeners tuned in each week….

In 1948 a children’s board game, called Ask Pickles, was released that was based on the format of the show…. In May 1954 the hit radio show became a TV show, with the same name – Ask Pickles…. It ran until 1956…. Pickles starred in his first TV sitcom Caxton’s Tales (along with Mabel) in 1958….

Pickles was not unique in his family for becoming famous…. He was the uncle of actresses Vivian Pickles and Christina Pickles and great uncle to Carolyn Pickles…. He was also uncle to colourful and outspoken Judge, James Pickles….

Pickles was awarded with a CBE for services to broadcasting in 1950…. He died in Brighton on the 27th of March 1978 and is buried with Mabel in Southern Cemetery, Manchester….

Image credit : Plucas58 -own work CC BY-SA 4.0

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