About PETER BAKER
A former BBC News presenter, I can offer quality deep and clear British narration, or I’m flexible with other styles of voice - from comedy wizards or demons for escape rooms or theme parks to serious voice acting for audio dramas or games. Also I can record for you live and virtual event announcements, on-hold phone voice prompts, tourism audio guides, eLearning projects and many different types of corporate voice styles. Ask for a free and fast custom demo today for your own project – no obligation.
Ask me to help with your voiceover needs – at a fair fee and mostly with full buyout. I’ve been providing professional voiceover recordings from straight narrations to comedy character work for over 40 years across the globe from my studio in the UK. Please get in touch for a voiceover quote or take a look at my rough rate card here. Keep me in mind if you need an in-vision presenter too; I have my own Green Screen TV studio at home with teleprompter. Click HERE for more details! If you’d like to use my voice to narrate your audiobook, I’d be pleased to discuss. Here are more details about Audiobooks.
Kindle, paperbacks and audiobooks written by
Peter Baker on voiceover work and the media. Available on Amazon.
I was born in London in 1955 but was brought up in Farnborough in Hampshire where I went to Farnborough Grammar School. When I was young, I always wanted to get into broadcasting, particularly radio, and it was so exciting when I was a child to listen to pirate radio stations broadcasting from ships bobbing about on the sea or from derelict old wartime forts in the English Channel, and it seemed such a incredible romantic thing to be broadcasting pop music. I built my own small radio transmitters, to “play DJ” from my bedroom, pretending that I was a pirate DJ too!
The reason the pirate radio ships were out there in the sea of course was that it was outside the British territorial waters, so they could broadcast legally to whatever part of the UK could pick up the signal. In 1967 this came to an end with the Marine Offences Act, and the gentleman who was in charge of the most popular pirate radio ship, Radio London, set up Piccadilly Radio, in Manchester. His name was Phillip Birch, and he hired a programme controller called Colin Walters, who amazingly gave me my first job.
I was at the University of Bath studying Electronics when I got the telegram from Colin Walters. I called him on the phone and started work the next Monday in Manchester, a place I’d never been in my life before! At the University of Bath, I did pass my first-year exams, but my heart wasn't really in it. I desperately wanted to get into broadcasting and voiceovers, and at university I presented on the campus station University Radio Bath, as often as I could. I was extremely lucky to be sponsored through university by the BBC, one of only two people in the country, and when I was there, I snuck into a professional studio at the World Service one Saturday morning and recorded a demo tape that got me my job at Piccadilly Radio.
So there I was, live on Manchester’s first commercial radio station in 1974 at age 20 earning a decent wage and becoming virtually a radio star overnight, and signing autographs for Piccadilly Radio fans constantly waiting outside our reception area, and doing radio shows from shop windows with crowds of people watching! That was such an amazing break to get at a young age, and as well as being a radio presenter, I also worked in the commercial production department under the legendary former radio pirate Steve England, and I also hosted the rock show and the country music show and eventually became head of music. I interviewed so many celebrities and music stars from Sparks to Abba; Dolly Parton to Steve Harley.
After nine years at Piccadilly Radio where I was extremely happy and successful, for some reason I decided I wanted to try and explore what it was like in the world of television. I started getting the Monday Guardian newspaper that had media jobs adverts in. This is in a time that was way before the internet of course! My usual paper shop had sold out of Guardians one week, and I was just walking out the door, when the newsagent remembered he had one out the back. I wouldn’t have bothered finding another shop, but thank goodness he called me back as that last Guardian newspaper had an advert in for a BBC TV News job in the West region!
A colleague at Piccadilly Radio, Phil Sayer, already was presenting the regional TV news at the BBC in Manchester, and he kindly invited me to make a VHS demo tape at the BBC studios. I sent this demo down to BBC Bristol, and that got me the job down there reading the bulletins for breakfast, lunch time and sometimes the evening news slot as well on BBC One in the West. As well as them liking my voice, another reason for me getting the job was that as a radio presenter, you operate all the equipment yourself, and they needed someone who could self-operate a television mixer as well as reading scripts to camera, which I found easy. Traditionally a TV presenter would have a whole gallery of people doing all the vision mixing for them, and playing in various pictures and captions, but they couldn't afford that with the new programmes like breakfast time that were starting then. They wanted people who were multiskilled.
While down there at BBC TV in Bristol, I also put myself forward to report on various lightweight subjects, as I couldn't do any heavy news stories, because I wasn't a trained journalist. So I ended up doing the weekly “what's on” round up on the “Points West” programme, and it was while filming at the Bristol Old Vic theatre, that I met the most incredible and beautiful girl, who I fell in love with, called Jocelyn, who was the assistant press officer there. I flew her to Paris and proposed marriage at the top of the Eiffel tower, like you do. I was so proud and pleased when she said yes.
To be so incredibly lucky to get the initial dream radio job for me at such a young age, and then to move into TV quite easily and then find the most fantastic, friendly, gorgeous girl, who actually agreed to marry me, was just as astonishing, and she has been a most wonderful companion, best friend and lover, and I'm so proud that she has been my wife over so many happy years.
Just as we got married, Piccadilly Radio invited me back to Manchester, so after six years of TV work, I left the BBC, to return to host the breakfast show of a new FM radio station called Key 103, and I was also in charge of the commercial production department there. It was also fortuitous to return to Manchester, because there were opportunities for me down the road at ITV Granada, which was a massive presence in Manchester, and after becoming a presenter for a programme called Granada Action, which was a social action programme that went out every teatime in the North West of England, looking at all sorts of things from police to health to people’s rights, this job led onto a full staff job at Granada Television, doing research, directing, and producing various factual programmes and documentaries on politics, motoring and on Manchester’s Olympic Bid.
This then led onto being asked to be in charge of a whole television channel, called Men and Motors. Actually “Men & Motors” was just the very rough working title for the channel, as we didn’t want the name to put off female viewers. But then one day, a big box of stationary and promotional goods arrived from London with “Men & Motors” already printed on the things, so we thought, “Men & Motors”, yeah, that’s fine, whatever! Now, I had already worked on a car programme for regional television some years earlier, so it seemed to be that I was totally suited to run the TV channel. To be honest, I've never been a real petrolhead, but I think the reason they wanted me to do the job, was because I was so multi skilled, being able to write, direct, produce and do all the technical stuff like film and edit. They wanted me to train dozens of young people to do the same, in other words, do virtually every job in television for one wage, as this was the only way these cheap programmes were going to be made at all!
It was an enormously steep learning curve for the people that I hired at the Men and Motors channel, and we pushed technology to the limits with the newly launched small DV Sony cameras we had, and with the Internet that was only started to become widespread. To present the motoring programmes, I hired a whole host of different people, like Paul and Wayne for the long-running weekly bike programme, Ginny Buckley for the car shows who went on to Sky News, and Richard Hammond, who went on to Top Gear and then Amazon. Richard in particular was such a great presenter from the start off, and I gave him his first TV break after he did a quick demo at the Geneva motor show where I met him on the Renault stand where he was working.
Granada Television then was such an amazing place to work, and I was based in the Newsroom, working with people like Bob Greaves, Richard Madeley, and the legendary Tony Wilson, with regular mixtures of personalities and celebrities passing through virtually daily, and I was so incredibly lucky to work at Granada in those times before it all horribly went wrong, due to very bad management.
The new bosses wanted to move Men and Motors down to London, and I didn't want to move down there, but it was a moot point anyway, as it was decided to close the satellite channels anyway, and I was made redundant. I then started my own production company and produced three series of a BBC children's show, called Prank Patrol, which was very successful, but didn't make me much money at all! In fact my company unfortunately went bust, but I was determined to fight back, and so I set myself up as a freelance voice over, which in financial terms was the best thing I could ever have done. I had always recorded voice overs fairly regularly anyway, even during my full-time jobs at the BBC and at Granada.
So, I was working from home, I had my own equipment, and I was my own boss. I used the Internet to find voice work all round the world, not just in local recording studios where most other people were looking. Voice work can be very well paid if you know what you’re doing. I grew my business by working crazy hard and paid all my debts and even managed to pay my house mortgage off early!
If you’re interested in my hobbies, they include music writing and I’ve had various songs on albums recorded by other people, I can’t sing well at all! Some songs are at www.songnet.co.uk. You can also check out a musical I wrote here: www.GalileoTheMusical.com
If you’re interested in becoming a voice artist, you’re welcome to check out the video-based training courses I have at www.VoiceoverMasterclass.com