Some of the great colleagues from my broadcasting career

Charles Collins Radio Suffolk leaving drinks

Aussie broadcaster Charles Collins' farewell drinks at The Greyhound pub in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

In his latest On Air in Suffolk column, broadcaster Stephen Foster reflects on some of the great colleagues he has worked alongside.

I've often been told I've got a great face for radio. That probably explains why my long broadcasting career hasn't included much work in TV.

Apart from a six week spell at BBC Look East in the mid-1990s when I assisted Ian Winter and Roger Farrant on the sports desk, it's been radio all the way. Unless comedian Alan Carr needs a stunt double I rather think that's how the rest of my working days are going to pan out.

During my 15 years hosting BBC Radio Suffolk's Drivetime show I enjoyed a great rapport with weather presenter Julie Reinger. Jules is an absolute delight to work with and even though her contributions to my programme came from a glorified broom cupboard up in Norwich it must have seemed to the listeners like we were in the same studio.

Julie Reinger and Stephen Foster

BBC Look East weather presenter Julie Reinger gets a peck on the cheek from Foz during an outside broadcast in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Contributed

Only rarely did we see each other in person. Way back in the early days of my tenure on the teatime show I did an outside broadcast from Bury St Edmunds. It was a few weeks before Christmas and I was there to cover the switching on of the festive lights.

Those sort of occasions are far better suited to TV than radio so I was delighted to hear that Jules was doing crosses from the event into that night's Look East. In meant us sharing the main stage for the big switch-on. We were happily chatting away on air when the director back in Norwich decided to cross live to Julie.

At that moment Jules panicked and shoved me out of the way! She then proceeded to do her report live to camera, unflustered and, as ever, word perfect while my rare chance of a bit of prime time TV exposure had disappeared. I've never let her forget it, pulling her leg about it on a regular basis ever since.

In an industry full of egos - some of which I've found embarrassing and unpalatable to say the least - Jules is one of the loveliest people I've ever worked with.

I can't fathom out why Jules hasn't had a bigger role during all her years at Look East. She's certainly one of the most talented broadcasters there.

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Another hugely talented colleague from down the decades at BBC Radio Suffolk is the larger-than-life Charles Collins. He was an original member of the team at Broadcasting House in Ipswich and when I joined the station in the summer of 1990 we hit it off straight away.

As presenter of the Saturday afternoon show G'day Sport and host of Suffolk Rocks the amiable Aussie was in his element.

It wasn't long before Charles and I were on air together. It was in early 1991 when Suffolk found itself in the grip of one of the worst winter snaps for ages.

The station's founding father, the late and much missed Ivan Howlett, asked us to do an evening show combining all the latest weather news with our favourite music. We were soon dubbed Fozzie and The Snowman and had one of the best weeks imaginable.

The snow was so deep that we were forced to stay at the nearby Carlton Hotel (not in the same room I hasten to add.) Charles's ability to ad lib was and still is second to none and he soon gave me the nickname of Horizontal Foz, coined to reflect my laid back approach to life.

In spite of many plaudits from our radio audience we never got asked for a repeat performance. We've often joked since that we must have been so good that the management knew we'd never match it again. For once, the bosses were probably right.

A few years down the line Charles took over commentaries of Ipswich Town games. He wasn't big on research but he was thoroughly entertaining.

He was describing the action from Old Trafford as Ipswich were mauled by Manchester United. As the ninth goal went in Charles came up with a classic line: "Ipswich are being murdered. The only thing missing is the homicide squad."

I too was at that game and Charles was spot on. I've always said Town were lucky to get nil that day.

I've been fortunate to share the airwaves with some great people. Jules and Charles are two of them. Another is the late Bob Shelley.

Next week I'll recall some of the many entertaining moments I spent with Bob doing The Happy Hour with him. To say we used to sail close to the wind would be the understatement of this or any other year.

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