In a world of slick, sanitised news broadcasts, it’s hard to imagine that a man like Reginald Bosanquet evere found work, but during the 1970s, he was ITN’s lead news reader. This despite being, as Anna Ford once described him, “a man who had epilepsy, was an alcoholic, had had a stroke and wore a toupée to read the news”. In fact, Reggie – as everyone called him – became a beloved eccentric for British viewers, who enjoyed the fact that he was usually slightly sozzled even when reading the news, couldn’t ptonounce foreign leaders’ names properly and once famously gave an on-air “happy birthday” greeting to Ford’s mother, blissfully unaware that she had died a few years earlier.
In 1980, he was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow – a controversial decision made worse when he turned up at an official reception hammered and proceeded to insult all the guests.
That same year, Reggie recorded one of the most remarkable novelty singles ever released. Dance with Me is the sound of a drunken lech trying to hit on women. Half the time, he just sounds confused, the rest worryingly enthused – “let’s see you, dance ladies, that’s it, oh I like it, I like the movement, it’s nice” and “I feel rather splendid at present” being two choice lyrical cuts. We’ve all seen a Reggie on the dancefloor, drunkenly leering at women and laughing excitedly at nothing. This record, perhaps accidentally, captures Nightclub Hell perfectly, and it’s one of the most deliriously insane things that you’ll ever hear.
Private Spy was a short-lived, trashy video series set up in 1982 by former News of the World hacks John Duggan and Ian Cutler. It set out to be a tabloid newspaper on video, exposing sex scandals ans alleged wrong-doing. It was controversial enough to last three editions despite barely selling any copies, and Reggie was the host of the second volume. This – ironically – caused tabloid outrage, with accusations that the news reader was appearing in a ‘pornographic’ video.
Bosanquet died 27th May 1984, aged just 51.