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Rory Morrison: Much-loved Radio 4 announcer


Rory Morrison was a respected BBC Radio 4 announcer and newsreader who had worked in numerous roles across the Corporation for more than two decades. On Tuesday he lost his long battle to a rare form of lymphatic cancer, aged 48. Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said "Rory was respected for his intelligence, integrity and professionalism. As a continuity announcer and a newsreader he was admired for the warmth of his voice, his clarity and his perfect timing. He was loved by all who knew him."

Born in London in 1964, Rory Morrison was the eldest of three children to Anne and Bob. He attended Malvern College where, thanks to his sociability, he became Head of House and School Prefect; he also excelled in drama and art and later won an ESU scholarship to Australia. He went on to read English at Durham University, graduating in 1986. With a flair for language, Morrison began working for local radio and presented an afternoon show at BBC Radio Leeds in 1990; he went on to work at Radio York and Radio Cleveland.

Leaving local radio, Morrison worked for British Forces Broadcasting Service before joining Radio 4 as a continuity announcer and to read the shipping forecasts in 1994. From working on From Our Own Correspondent to spending New Year's Eve 1999 on stand-by in case the infamous millennium bug struck the corporation's broadcasting output, he reported on and presented a wide range of programmes.

Morrison eventually progressed to the news-reading team and became familiar to millions of listeners, earning praise for a voice described as "mellifluous" by former The World Tonight presenter Robin Lustig. He presented the six o'clock bulletin for major events such as the Queen Mother's funeral. He was also a regular on Radio 4's News Quiz.

He was known for his good sense of humour, but colleagues were amazed at Morrison's ability to keep a straight face in some rather delicate situations. One such occasion arose when he was describing the broadsheet and the tabloid newspapers' "generous coverage" of Boris Becker's "no-holds-barred account" of his brief sexual liaison with a Russian model, met five minutes earlier, in the cupboard of a London restaurant.

In 2004, on his 10th wedding anniversary, Morrison received a single red rose with a poignant and moving letter from his wife, the BBC journalist Nikki Jenkins, but within half an hour he had been told the news that he had an incurable type of cancer, a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

In the years after his diagnosis, Morrison maintained his sunny temperament. In a moving account of his life under treatment in the Daily Mail in 2008, he wrote, "I don't think in terms of having a battle with this cancer; I prefer to think of it as a chronic condition that I can, and will, manage. When something like this happens, you realise how lucky you are to have such great friends and family." He added, "I'm determined to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary somewhere more glamorous than a hospital ward."

Following another operation Morrison enthusiastically wrote on 9 May: "Two weeks on after my stem cell transplant and I have today bought a frivolous new car and got cracking tickets for ladies' final at Wimbledon!"

Tributes have poured in. Clare Balding said: "The world has lost another kind, great man today. He didn't make headlines, he read them." Cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew wrote: "Desperately sad to learn of death of Rory. A familiar TMS Radio 4 voice for many years. Lovely man."

Morrison is survived by his two children, Honor and Reuben, and his wife, Nikki Jenkins.

Martin Childs

Rory Morrison, radio presenter: born London 5 August 1964; married 1994 Nikki Jenkins (two children); died St Albans, Hertfordshire 11 June 2013