Author Biography - Ray Gosling
Ray Gosling has more than 100 television documentaries and over 1,000 radio documentaries
to his name, and is known to millions. He began his early life as a grammar school chorister
in the Fifties, singing Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring soprano, quickly swinging to a whisky-swilling,
Park Drive smoking, lip-curling, surly bopper in later adolescence. He became a band promoter,
a young handsome who ran the dances at the Co-op Hall, affectionately titled 'Chez Ray Rock',
a club for the unclubbables. Ray talked about a new way forward for the bottom rungs of youth,
still valid in 2004. However, the club got into some troubles - sex, violence and fighting between
the lads. Ray had to run, and from his grief he wrote his autobiography of life so far, Sum
Gosling sees Sum Total as almost a lyrical piece, which captures the nation in that
moment in time - a society fixed in class, religion and chimney stacks of the manufacturing
industry. Society seemed set, fixed, yet himself and the other boys on the bottom rung felt
a revolutionary fervour - they were going to rock and roll the world in favour of new life.
Sum Total got Ray writing, and from there he wrote essays for obscure journals such
as Peace News and Anarchy, and then later reviews for the Times and New Society magazine.
From writing Ray went onto talking - or specifically broadcast media, delivering his writing
on BBC radio. He became a teacher of Liberal Studies, and then later became involved in community
politics. He started the St Ann's Tenants and Residents Association of which he was chairman
for 15 years. .
Ray's documentary career began with series with titles such as Who Owns Britain?, The Heavy
Side of Town and Battle for the Slums. He also travelled widely, learning several
languages before he went to New Zealand, Turkey, Bangladesh, France, United States, 'everywhere
but everywhere in Pakistan', and of course Wales. He did the investigation that unravelled the
truth of the notorious 'Welsh Triangle.' "I bottomed the cause, went to the source, and
found the truth in the maze of stories and flurry of tales of UFO sightings and aliens seen
from farmhouse windows in west Wales."
Everywhere he went, from Wales to Calcutta, he made documentaries. About the Frenchness of
the French, when the Virgin spoke to the Spanish in Spanish, his personal genealogical journey
to the suburbs of L.A - these were just a few. "I did the interviews, poked in dusty corners
and flavoured it all up with enthusiasm and sceptical wit." But England was and still is
his first love, and some of his best work is the wonderful documentary portraits he made of
'the English'. From the builder with a helicopter, to a young Julie Burchill, to interviews
with Enoch Powell, back to the gardener in Kingsbridge, and the bailiffs in Marylebone. "I
liked to devote whole half hour programmes to lots of people - 'unknowns' - each one done properly,
and broadcast their thoughts and work nationally." Something he always did with the greatest
The list goes on and Ray was highly prolific. He also made histories, of Port Sunlight, Stornaway,
Laura Ashley and the great British tradition, the semi-detached house in, the Semi. By
now Ray had ratings, and after a while he started to win awards for his work. He also was doing
television work by this stage, making documentaries shown in early evening slots, including
the well-known Gosling's Travels series. In three years he made over 100 programmes
covering a wide range of places, subjects and people, from a monastery to a mental hospital.
And always those pieces he loved, where he gave a voice to the people: "I liked to give people
their opportunity to beef against. whoever."
In 2003 he was again on television, this time himself and his financial troubles the subject
of a touching documentary Bankrupt: Ray Gosling, about the threat of re-possession
of the house he shared with his partner Bryn for over 30 years until Bryn's death from cancer.
But it all began in the heady days Gosling describes in Sum Total, when the world
changed for him and the other bottom rung youths, the hire-suit teddy boys, on their feet, on
the street, and in the dance hall. Sum Total describes a moment of time and class in
British society, and that particular moment when a whole generation first became a class of
their own: revolutionary youth. "We felt we were making the greatest change in human spirit
in our culture since the Protestant Revolution." It wonderfully expresses that pivotal moment
of a young man on the edge of the beginning of his life, looking ahead to 'whatever'. A man
who went on to become the maker of some of the most significant and well-known British broadcasting
of the late twentieth century, and whose life has always been shaped "by wit, quirk, love of
the little man and the extraordinary goodness in commoner people".
by Christian Renuchi
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