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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 Total.

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 respect. .
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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