Memorial service set for Banchory-born broadcaster Ian ‘mac the knife’ McIntyre


A memorial service is to be held for Deeside-born BBC broadcaster Ian McIntyre at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London, on July 1.

Born in Banchory in 1931, he died on April 19 in Hertfordshire, aged 82.

Mr McIntyre worked for the BBC for more than a quarter of a century and, as controller of Radio 4, was involved in many controversial changes in the schedules.

As a result of the cuts and his “somewhat abrasive” management style, he was known within the corporation as ‘Mac the Knife.’

In 1978 he was moved to Radio 3, and caused much distress in the music department when he wrote an internal paper recommending the disbandment of several of the BBC orchestras.

The unrest resulted in musicians taking industrial action and the start of the Proms being delayed.

Ian McIntyre was the son of a taxidermist and, although he was born in Deeside, was educated in the South.

He read French and Russian at St John’s College, Cambridge, and was president of the union in 1953.

He spent a year at the College of Europe in Bruges, did his National Service in the Intelligence Corps, and joined the BBC in 1957.

Mr McIntyre then worked for the Conservative Party in Scotland as director of information (1962–65) and was in charge of press communications during the vital by-election in Perth and Kinross in 1963.

He fought Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles for the Tories in 1966.

McIntyre returned to the BBC and, in 1968, was asked to present a new topical series concentrating on current affairs.

The programme was Analysis and he was given the brief “to go beyond the bien pensant agenda”. More practically, he focused on the events and views that shape public opinion.

Mr McIntyre interviewed Prime Ministers Edward Heath and Harold Macmillan, as well as the Shah of Iran and his quiet, reassuring voice, along with informed questioning, marked him out as a broadcaster of real quality.

He remained the presenter until 1976 when he was appointed controller of Radio 4 with a brief to streamline the station and radically altered its news coverage. He appointed the first female newsreaders and cut the Today programme in two, placing a light magazine show in the middle. The outcry was so intense that McIntyre returned to the usual format within a year.

He felt ‘The Archers’ needed revitalising and moved the “everyday story of country folk” from 7 to 6.45pm.

The public protested vehemently.

Mr McIntyre said: “Listening to The Archers was rather like going to church on Sunday,” .

His cuts, alterations and changes to the schedules were not well received – hence the unfortunate nickname.

After the BBC, Mr McIntyre was an associate editor of The Times and wrote biographies of Robert Burns, the artist Sir Joshua Reynolds and John Reith, the BBC’s first director general.

His biography on Burns concluded: “Here was a mind of great quality… he must have been a most tremendous conversationalist, very sharp, bright, and amusing.”

Mr McIntyre, always courteous and kindly, was a devoted family man and nursed his wife, Leik Sommerfelt McIntyre, through Parkinson’s disease. He remained a proud Scot and returned often, he admitted, “to breathe some good clean air.”

His wife died in 2012 and he is survived by two sons and two daughters.