We have been advised that D. Parry-Jones[1944 - 1945] has passed away.He was a well known journalist and rugby commentator. His obituary appeared in the Telegraph on 15th May 2017:-

David Parry-Jones, great Welsh broadcaster – obituary

 

 

David Parry-Jones, who has died aged 83, was one of the most accomplished and versatile broadcasters ever produced by the BBC in Wales, or for that matter anywhere in the United Kingdom.

An all-rounder in a broad spectrum of radio and television programmes, he worked as newsreader, reporter, presenter, interviewer and commentator in news, current affairs, religion, documentaries, education and sport, notably in rugby union, a game with which he was closely identified in the public’s mind for more than 30 years.

As a documentary-maker he was intent on redressing the traditional stereotypes of Wales – pit-head, male voice choir, sheep – by replacing them with images that reflected more accurately the stunning landscapes and vibrant people he knew and admired. He was incensed by what fly-by-night film crews visiting from England chose to show of contemporary Wales, but also dismayed by what the Welsh were content to tell the world about themselves.

To local councillors who complained that his promotional film of their town in Monmouthshire showed fine buildings, modern amenities and a breathtakingly beautiful hinterland instead of the grim remnants of industry and social deprivation with which they were more familiar, he pointed out that a similar film about London would focus not on its dreary urban sprawl but on Westminster Abbey, the West End and the Thames.

He often waxed lyrical about the natural beauty of Wales and, a staunch patriot, had special affection for her people, their strengths as well as their shortcomings.

 

David Parry-Jones was born on September 25 1933 in Pontypridd, a bustling town at the confluence of Rhondda and Taff in the heart of industrial Glamorgan. His Welsh-speaking father was from Corwen in North Wales and a minister with the Presbyterian Church of Wales, that is to say the Calvinistic Methodists, perhaps the most conservative of the Welsh Nonconformist denominations, while his mother was an English-speaking teacher from Monmouthshire.

There was a streak of conservative, even Conservative, piquancy in his own thinking, especially with regard to what he considered the baneful influence of trade unions in the broadcasting industry, and he certainly had none of the proletarian mores usually associated with his rugby-loving compatriots. He was, in short, an example of what Kingsley Amis called an “upmarket media Welshman”.

He was brought up in a home that revered scholastic achievement, but he was unable to speak more than a few phrases of his father’s language. His lack of Welsh irked him and, during his career with BBC Wales, he would often blame it for the promotion of colleagues to posts which he thought he could have filled better.

Like many sons of the manse, with whom the BBC in Wales abounded until recent times, David Parry-Jones inherited his father’s mellifluous tones and felt himself at home in both North and South Wales, so that he seemed destined to have a career in an all-Wales context such as broadcasting.

His sense of being Welsh was awoken while a pupil at Hoylake preparatory school on the Wirral, where he was taunted on account of his accent, and at Birkenhead School. He was greatly relieved when his parents brought him home to Cardiff, where his father had taken up a post as religious broadcasts organiser with the BBC Welsh Home Service, and where in 1945 he started as a pupil at the city’s High School. It was there that he discovered a keen interest in cricket and rugby.

In 1952 he went up to Merton College, Oxford, to read Classics, graduating four years later without distinction. At Merton he was usually to be found in the company of “hearties” and gave a wide berth to the Dafydd ap Gwilym Society, in whose meetings his more earnestly Welsh-speaking contemporaries congregated.

Of his time at Oxford he was to write: “If asked to analyse the Oxford experience, I would cite the conferring of great confidence in social and business discourse. Never since, despite the company of gifted and able individuals in my professional career, have I encountered quite the bracing climate of ideas that the University afforded. Three or four years beside the Isis wrap you in a thick skin which can weather many of the storms which await the career-minded. It also taught me how to deal with the English – in particular their public-school-trained middle class – which is an art in itself.”

He enjoyed his two years’ national service with the Welch Regiment, during which he attained the rank of second lieutenant and was sent to Cyprus at the height of the Eoka campaign and then to Tobruk in Libya. He became particularly fond of the squaddies serving with him, admiring them for their practical skills and stoical good humour: for many years after demobilisation he attended the curry lunches cooked by Gurkhas in Cardiff’s Maindy Barracks, renewing old friendships and talking over old times.

His first jobs as a journalist were with the Western Mail and The Sunday Times, but it was in broadcasting that Parry-Jones was to make his mark. He had taken part in Children’s Hour as a 12-year-old and had broadcast with actors such as Richard Burton and Siân Phillips. He had also represented his school in Top of the Form, during which he had enjoyed several inspirational conversations with Richard Dimbleby.

He now landed a job as a newsreader with the BBC in Cardiff, filling a vacancy left by Michael Aspel, and soon learnt the rudiments of reading to camera. With a good broadcasting voice, impeccable manners, a cool head and the Brylcreemed looks of a Don Bradman, he seemed a natural in front of the microphone and camera.

With the creation of BBC Wales in 1963 Parry-Jones found freelance opportunities galore as studio interviewer, commentator and documentary maker under the tutelage of the distinguished producer Gethyn Stoodley Thomas, and in both radio and television.

Through the 1970s he was paired with John Darran as co-presenter of Wales Today, the evening news programme that was the BBC Wales flagship, and was to be seen regularly introducing Songs of Praise from Wales and other popular programmes.

But he came into his own as a rugby commentator. For 20 years he covered most international matches and had one of the most familiar grandstand voices in the game, as well-known in Wales as Bill McLaren’s in Scotland; his trademark sheepskin coat, much mocked by wags like Max Boyce for its luxuriant fleece collar, was almost as famous.

Parry-Jones’s love of rugby, and his intimate knowledge of its ethos and arcana, were evident in all his commentaries, in which he strove to maintain the elegance and dignity of language which he habitually employed in front of the microphone.

 

This work began to founder in 1979 when BBC Wales devolved its Welsh-language responsibilities to the newly established BBC Cymru and, four years later, with the advent of S4C (the fourth channel which broadcasts partly in Welsh), he was told that as frontman of Wales Today he was to be replaced by younger men and women.

Nothing daunted, and with the former Glamorgan cricketer Peter Walker, he now set up an independent television company known as Merlin which specialised in making corporate videos; it was later sold but bought back from the receivers in 1993.

David Parry-Jones wrote books about rugby with the players Mervyn Davies and David Watkins, as well as Taff’s Acre, a history of Cardiff Arms Park, and Rugby Remembered, a pictorial account of the game’s development as portrayed over a century and a half by The Illustrated London News.

The resentment he felt at his treatment by BBC Wales was directed towards “fat cat administrators in the media hierarchy” and this animus inevitably coloured the account he published in Action Replay: a Media Memoir (1993), which otherwise provides a lively insight into broadcasting and a genial account by a consummate professional of what he called “a lifetime in communication with one’s native land”.

He married Janet Evans, but the marriage was later dissolved and he is survived by their son and daughter, and by his long-term partner, the broadcaster Beti George, whose moving account of nursing him through the last phase of Alzheimer’s disease was recently shown on BBC One.

David Parry-Jones, born September 25 1933, died April 10 2017