BBC: 'Speaking Clock' Pat Simmons dies

The second voice of the Speaking Clock, Pat Simmons, has died aged 85.

Miss Simmons, whose recorded voice announced the time on the BT service from 1963 until 1985, died at the Royal London Hospital in East London.

Rumours that she died after her third stroke are, rather disappointingly, unfounded.

I have a very soft spot for Miss Simmons. As a child, I used to speak with her on the phone every Saturday afternoon. That was in the days when phones still had dials, and were still referred to as telephones. I would call her on my grandmother's phone (Eastham 1663) to check the time while I was winding up my grandmother's grandfather clock. We didn't have a phone of our own, so making that weekly call was a real treat. I thought the lady who you telephoned to find out the time must have the most boring job in the whole world. I would try to break the monotony for her by asking how she was, and what she was going to have for her tea. Not that Miss Simmons ever deviated from her script, you understand: she was far too professional for that.

At 11 o'clock precisely on my 20th birthday, British Telecom replaced Miss Simmons with a plummy man who slipped in advertisements for Accurist between the pips. I'm sure Miss Simmons of all people would appreciate that times change, but, ever since that day, I have steadfastly refused to dial those magic numbers, 1-2-3: it just wouldn't be the same.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

One comment

  1. I always had this vision as a child in Greenwich, of a lady sat knitting in front of a big old BBC microphone repeating the time 24/7

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