Obituary: Kenneth Lamb

Kenneth Henry Lowry Lamb, broadcaster: born Croydon 23 December 1923; Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, in History and English, Royal Naval College, Greenwich 1946-53; Chief Assistant, Current Affairs, TV talks, BBC 1959-63, Head of Religious Broadcasting 1963-66, Secretary to the BBC 1967-68, Director, Public Affairs 1969-77, Special Adviser (Broadcasting Research) 1977-80; Secretary to the Church Commissioners 1980-85; CBE 1985; married 1952 Anne Saul (one son, two daughters); died London 21 June 1995.

Kenneth Lamb was from 1980 to 1985 the Secretary to the Church Commissioners and had previously had a wide-ranging career in the BBC, producing current affairs programmes in both radio and television. He was the first layman to be made head of religious broadcasting; and became Secretary of the BBC and Director of Public Affairs.

Lamb was born in 1923, the younger son of Sir Ernest Lamb, the Asquithian former Liberal MP for Rochester, later the first Baron Rochester. In 1955 Kenneth Lamb applied for a vacancy as a current affairs producer in BBC radio. I was a member of the appointments board which interviewed him. He told us he had been educated at Harrow School, though not in Harrow, since the school had been evacuated during the Second World War to Malvern College. He had been President of the Oxford Union while at Trinity College, Oxford. His National Service was as an instructor- lieutenant in the Royal Navy and he had gone on to become a lecturer, eventually senior lecturer, in English and History at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He had just completed two years in Chicago as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow.

These were impressive qualifications and we had no difficulty in deciding to appoint him. He worked on At Home and Abroad and other current affairs programmes. Two years later he moved over to the Television Talks department at Lime Grove and became one of the producers on Panorama. Many of the items he directed were studio-based discussions of political or defence matters, such as the attitude of the Western Allies towards the Berlin crisis when the Berlin Wall was built. They also included domestic matters such as the dispute in the printing industry and the standardisation of electric plugs. He worked particularly closely with two Panorama reporters, Christopher Chataway and Robert Kee.

In 1958, on their way back from the United States, Lamb and Kee stopped off in Bermuda and made a film in connection with the island's 350th anniversary. Lamb described it as "a naughty piece". It took a mildly disrespectful look at the three main families on the island, and provoked a barrage of complaints. Hugh Carleton Greene, then the new Director of News and Current Affairs, viewed Lamb's film and pronounced it amusing and harmless, if a little cheeky.

Lamb was next promoted to be the Chief Assistant, Current Affairs, in the Television Talks department. This was partly a troubleshooting job. He would deal patiently with complainants, and his elegantly worded soft answers usually turned away viewers' wrath. This work, which he did for four years, also brought him into close contact with Greene.

There was considerable surprise in 1963 when it was announced that Lamb would succeed Canon Roy McKay as Head of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC. This was a post hitherto always held by a clergyman of the Church of England. Lamb was a deeply religious man, but was a layman and had been brought up as a Methodist. Greene, by that time Director-General, consulted the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Liverpool before nominating Lamb at the age of 39 to this sensitive post.

In 1952 Lamb had married Anne Saul. Anne Lamb later taught Politics and Divinity at the Frances Holland School in London. In 1971 they jointly published Hope, a book consisting of five essays by Anne and the text of the University Sermon which Kenneth Lamb had been invited to deliver at Oxford.

Lamb became in 1967 the Secretary to the BBC, which brought him into close contact with the Governors. When Greene resigned, in 1969, Lamb along with Huw Wheldon, David Attenborough and Oliver Whitley, was considered to succeed him. The post went to Charles Curran, and Lamb was made Director of Public Affairs, with a seat on the Board of Management.

In 1970 Curran wished to move Lamb sideways off the Board of Management to a new job concerned with regional policy. Lamb, who was increasingly out of sympathy with some of the BBC's policies at the time, appealed to the Board of Governors. They were divided. Sir Hugh Greene threatened to resign from the board if Lamb were displaced. Lamb remained as Director of Public Affairs until 1977 when Ian Trethowan, the new Director-General, transferred him to the position of Special Adviser (Broadcasting Research). This was a job not worthy of his abilities and he looked out for other employment.

In 1980 Lamb took premature retirement from the BBC to become Secretary to the Church Commissioners, the body concerned with administering the finances of the Church of England, originally provided under Queen Anne's Bounty. It was a role he greatly enjoyed.

Throughout his career Lamb took great interest in charitable work. When he was teaching at Greenwich he was first concerned with the Bede House Association, which helped the under-privileged of Bermondsey. Later he was for many years its Chairman. He also chaired the Charities Effectiveness Review Trust, and was Governor of Bloxham School and of Atlantic College, founded by Kurt Hahn. He was a keen golfer and cricket player until debilitating illness struck him four years ago.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice