Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rowan Ayers

Another contributor to Swift Annual 1 (1954). No idea what he might have written but I have dug up a small heap of information. Ayers was the author of Aspects in Adolescence. Being the moods of a young man (London, A. H. Stockwell, 1940), a slim book of wartime poetry. He was living in London (Kensington and Chelsea) during the 1950s-1970s. He also wrote a couple of stories for Argosy around the same time as his contribution to Swift Annual.

Ayers went on the produce Line-Up for the opening night of BBC2 on 20 April 1964, the programme described thus in the following article, 'Presentation Presents' by David Brockman:
Line-up was one of its [the BBC's Presentation (Programmes) Dept.] first major successes, transmitted as it was across the week, in various formats, over seven days. The programme covered a wide range of topics including books, theatre, cinema, music and all manner of cultural topics. A key figure behind Line-up was Rowan Ayers, who later was a founding creator of the BBC's innovative Community Programme Unit.
Ayers was the producer of the Late Night Line-Up, which took over from Line-Up in September 1964. The show lasted until 1972, although whether Ayers was involved all the way through I don't know. It seems likely as he was there to launch the Beatles album Abbey Road in September 1969 (this according to a Beatles memorabilia site). Ayers has various other credits with the BBC ranging from Carry on Forever (1970) to articles in the Radio Times (an example of which can be found here).

According to a brief entry on Wikipedia, Ayers subsequently moved to Australia where he wrote and narrated a TV documentary The Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also co-authored two books, Australian Film, Television & Radio School Guide to Video Production (Allen & Unwin, Jun 1990) and Guide to Video Production (Allen & Unwin, Feb 1992).

Apparently he is the father of Kevin Ayers, one of the founders of Soft Machine, the British psychedelic band. Again, Wikipedia provides a few clues, mentioning in its entry for Kevin Ayers that his parents split and he spent much of his childhood in Malaysia (this would put the split somewhere around 1950). This site (and many others drawing, presumably, from the same source) gives Kevin's father's occupation as a British District Officer but this is at odds with an article in The Guardian which says that it was Ayers' stepfather who worked in Malaysia.

Australian broadcaster ABC's website also provides some background on Ayers: he started out as a journalist in Fleet Street and then went into TV, working with David Attenborough and helping revolutionise British television with shows like Points of View and The Old Grey Whistle Test before moving to Australia where he worked at Channel 9. According to the site, "Rowan now lives on the Sunshine Coast." The site relates to a radio interview with Ayers (20 February 2006). The photograph above also comes from the site.

(* I didn't intend writing this up tonight but, while digging around, I found an interview with Neil Gaiman (22 May 2006) which I'm waiting to finish downloading... hence the slightly random nature of this entry. But it gives you an idea of how these things can be built up from scratch.)

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