Hugh Rouse's voice was extremely familiar to listeners of South
African radio. His contribution as narrator on the radio version
of The Avengers was distinctive and essential to the
production's success. However, South Africans will most
certainly remember Rouse for a very different role in radio -
namely his ground-breaking work in news reading.
Of British descent, Hugh Rouse served in the Royal Navy during
the Second World War. Having fallen in love with Durban during
the war, Hugh decided to settle in South Africa once the
conflict had ended. In April 1947, the opportunity arose to join
the Durban staff of the South African Broadcasting Company,
under Leslie Green. Hugh came on board, and worked initially
with the English Service in an administrative capacity, which he
found dull and not to his tastes. He thought of himself as a
broadcaster, not a clerk. Three years after joining the SABC,
Hugh saw his wish realised when Springbok Radio, a new
commercial channel set up by the SABC in competition with the
English Service, approached him to anchor their newscasts.
Although the money on offer was not particularly enticing, he
grasped the opportunity with both hands.
Radio launched on May 1st 1950, with Hugh Rouse presenting three
newscasts on the station each day. His call sign - "The World at
One, Seven and Ten-Thirty - Hugh Rouse reporting" - permeated the lives
and routines of a nation of radio listeners.
Hugh's style was unorthodox, his delivery fast and punchy - a
million miles from the measured tones favoured by BBC
newsreaders of the time. The management at Springbok Radio were
unsure of Rouse's style... but the audience were in no doubt.
They loved it. Before long, Hugh Rouse had made his mark and
South African newscasting was changed forever.
As Hugh's involvement in The Avengers suggests, his
interests went beyond simply reading the news. He narrated
documentaries and youth programmes, and one of his great loves
was commentating on cricket. In radio drama, he used his
remarkable voice to create several memorable characters, the
most reknowned being Inspector Carr, in Inspector Carr
Rouse also made film appearances, including the British film
Burndown (1989) in which he played the character of George
Blake, alongside, perhaps remarkably, two other Avengers
radio series performers,
Michael McCabe and
Hugh Rouse died after a long illness in Alberton aged 78 in May
by Alan Hayes
based on an obituary by Bob Courtney and Adrian Steed