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Belfrage, Bruce

Category: Performer

from NPG

Bruce Belfrage (30 October 1900 – August 1974) was an English actor, BBC newsreader and British Liberal Party politician.

He was born in Marylebone, London and was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk before he took an honours degree at Oxford in modern languages.

Belfrage started his career as an actor, appearing in his first film in 1932. For example he had roles in:

  • C.O.D.. (1932) – as Philip
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) – as Pitt
  • Too Many Millions (1934)
  • Full Circle (1935) – as Clyde Warren
  • War Front (1941) – as a Newspaper editor
  • Hue and Cry (1947) – as a BBC announcer
  • Man on the Run (1948) – as a BBC Newscaster

In a strange twist that meant that life followed film, he then became a broadcaster in the early days of 2LO at Savoy Hill, and in 1935 joined the BBC as a casting director.  He later became a news reader and announcer.

 

In a famous incident on 15 October 1940, the BBC's Broadcasting House took a direct hit from a delayed-action German bomb, which eventually exploded during the nine o'clock radio news read by Belfrage. Seven people were killed, and Belfrage, covered with plaster and soot, carried on reading the news as if nothing had happened. Listeners at home heard just a dull thud. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve in 1942, and was demobilized with the rank of lieutenant-commander.

Belfrage was the Liberal candidate for the South Buckinghamshire division at the 1950 General Election. In an election at which hundreds of Liberal candidates polled so poorly that they lost their deposit by polling under 12.5%, Belfrage polled better.  He did not stand for parliament again. He died in Sydney, Australia at the age of 73.

Why is he on the site?  He had a near death experience recounted in his autobiography One Man in His Time (Hodder & Stoughton, 1941).

 

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