Swearing @ air

According to last Sundays Observer Magazine the very-third-time-ever that the word fuck was broadcast live on the UK airwaves was on 1 December 1976. How do they know this? Well, seemingly the Sex Pistols appeared on the Bill Grundy Show and uttered the immortal words “Bill Grundy is a fuckin’ rotter”. That’s probably on record somewhere in the depths of the BBC archives but what about the first two utterances, of which writer Juliana Piskorz makes no mention whatsoever. I may have an answer. The art of swearing upon the airwaves goes back a fair wee bit beyond those heady seventies.
Broadcaster Richard Dimbleby was a close friend and colleague of Robin Duff, the 32nd and last laird of Oldmeldrum. Aberdeenshire-born Duff inherited both his lairdship and Meldrum House, the family ancestral home, from his uncle in 1954. A Cambridge graduate, he worked as a presenter then as a radio journalist for the BBC. During World War 2 Robin famously stood on London rooftops during the Blitz describing in graphic detail the bombing of the city by the young men of the Luftwaffe.
In an interview, shortly before his death in 1990 aged 75, Robin recalled his long and distinguished career. He had covered the liberation of Europe, reported from the Normandy beaches during the Allied landings, and been shot at by a sniper during the liberation of Paris. Post-war, he returned to France to record the Radio Scotland series Duff’s War.
Robin was in fact perhaps the very first newsman to broadcast an expletive on the normally sedate BBC Radio news. While reporting on the London Blitz his recording van was strafed by a German plane which he said “would have machine-gunned all of the reporting crew given the chance”.
He quite naturally let loose with a few choice strong words, which, after careful consideration, the news editors at the BBC and the wartime censors passed for broadcast. 

On inheriting Meldrum House, Robin Duff turned part of the building into an award-winning hotel. Amongst a clientele that included entertainers, politicians and a good few rock stars a frequent visitor was ballet mega-star Dame Margot Fonteyn - a lifelong friend whose autobiography he co-wrote.
Chairman of Scottish Ballet from 1973 until 1982, Robin is buried at St Matthew and St George’s Episcopal Church, at Oldmeldrum.

The Sex Pistols are perhaps best remembered for that splendidly banned vomit ridden mega-punk-hit God save the Queen – she ain’t no human being …

Duncan Harley is the author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire

And it’s been an awfully fine sunny day today in Aberdeenshire


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