Clarence Goode

The First Director

Clarence like many of the young men who contributed to the emergent BBC, developed practical wireless skills during his national service in the Great War.

The wonders of science and radio captured his imagination as an eleven-year-old, and during his youth he learnt about telegraphy and became competent with Morse Code. Far from being solely interested in things technical he also loved music, having studied violin during his childhood.

An opportunity arose to meet Marconi and he worked with Charles Wright (of Captain Scott Antarctic Expedition fame) on wireless trench communications at Ypres. Later in the war Clarence transferred to the Royal Flying Corps installing wireless sets in aircraft. He continued his national service after the armistice as a communications officer in Russia installing radio stations along the Dvina river. Like so many of his generation, the toll of war led to physical injury and mental health problems, leading to a hospital stay for three months.

After medical discharge from the services he returned to Wireless research and training, was a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers (USA) and in 1922 made a patent application for some original work.  

At age 28 he was successful in his application to become station director at the new BBC Plymouth Relay Station in the town. It was not an easy ride, on the very day he arrived at the ‘Duke of Cornwall’ Hotel to commence work, a deputation of angry radio dealers descended on him insisting that programmes should start immediately. A tall order indeed as he was new to the area, and neither studio premises or transmitter had been completed. At his first press interview in February 1924 he spoke with confidence and explained that he would create a station ‘second to none’. Clarence was never short of ambition. Within months he was gaining a reputation as an ‘ideas’ man with plenty of energy. 

Staff throughout the BBC were expected in those early years to make full use of their wider skills and interests. Creative writing, acting and musical aptitude being sought after. When Clarence  recruited for any role, each candidate was quizzed and asked to demonstrate their creative talents.

An independent spirit, he found it sometimes difficult dealing with personalities at BBC head office at Savoy Hill. Considering himself at least the equal of those in London, he often judged criticism of Plymouth programmes from programme heads as unfair and occasionally fuelled by jealousy. Whatever the truth - ambition, stamina and gritty perseverance drove him and 5PY through 1924.

His tenure of 5PY was to come to an abrupt end – the story will unfold in a later chapter.

REFERENCE 2022. Summon 2.0. [online]
Available at:
[Accessed 1 January 2022].