Obituary: Raymond Baxter

Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK

Raymond Baxter, who has died at the age of 84, was the face of Tomorrow’s World for 12 years, bringing science and technology to generations, but his versatility also saw his commentary skills sought for sports and state occasions.

These included the annual Festival of Remembrance, the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and the 1953 Coronation for which he had to stand in Trafalgar Square under the statue of King Charles’s horse in the pouring rain.

“If you have ever stood under a statue of a horse in heavy rain, you can imagine where the rain goes. Well it did and I got very wet.”

Trailblazer

As the commentator on motor racing, speedway and aviation, Raymond Baxter was always close to the action and sometimes part of it.

He competed in the Monte Carlo rally and during World War II he flew Spitfires. He was twice mentioned in despatches.

It was Baxter who described Concorde’s first flight. He was the first to broadcast live from an aeroplane, an ocean-liner and a submarine under water.

Born and brought up in Ilford, Essex, he joined the RAF in 1940 at the age of 18, and became a squadron leader.

He was still in the RAF when he joined Forces Broadcasting in Cairo in 1945. After a spell with the British Forces Network he moved to Outside Broadcasts at the BBC.

Making science simple

He went freelance in the mid 1960s, and also took up a job in industry.

He was there from the start of Tomorrow’s World in 1965, bringing to it a particular enthusiasm for explaining gadgets and mechanical processes in an uncomplicated way.

He left the programme in 1977 to make way for a more youthful presentational style.

He presented Tomorrow’s World for 12 years

Some 20 years later, he co-hosted Tomorrow’s World Time Machine which looked back at 33 years of the popular science show.

He was active in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and was Admiral of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships. He owned a motor yacht which had been to Dunkirk in 1940.

Raymond Baxter maintained his love of motor racing but flying was his biggest passion.

He will be remembered by his fellow broadcasters as the ultimate professional.

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