Archie P Lee

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Archibald Petrie Lee
Born (1910-06-12)12 June 1910
Sutherland Terrace, Carluke, Scotland
Died 18 April 1998(1998-04-18) (aged 87)
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater Glasgow University
  • BBC Scottish War News Organiser
  • BBC Scotland, General Features Producer
  • James Lee
  • Ann Swanney Petrie

Archie P Lee (12 June 1910–18 April 1998) was a legendary BBC Scotland producer.

Early life

Archibald Petrie Lee was the son of a professional gardener and fruit grower who worked for the Duke of Buccleuch.

During his time as a student at Glasgow University, Lee went to Glasgow Central Station to welcome Albert Einstein, who was coming to deliver a lecture at the University.

After his studies he became a reporter with the Scottish Daily Express in Albion Street, Glasgow. He became the paper's radio critic writing a regular column entitled 'Radio Talking'.

BBC career

In 1938 he took up the new appointment of press officer at the BBC in Glasgow.

In 1940 he became press officer for the BBC's West Region[1], moving to Bristol just in time to witness it being bombed by the Nazis from November of that year.

He moved back to Glasgow in 1942 when he was appointed 'War News Organiser'. He edited the first wartime Scottish News Summary introduced on 17 April that year, becoming the first BBC member of staff involved directly in the compilation of Scottish news. His main responsibility was "clearing" stories for broadcast; or, as an internal BBC document described it: "to collect news items from the Scottish Ministry of Information and Public Relations Office, from local correspondents where necessary, and the Agency Representatives".[2]

Lee then went south to work in Overseas News in London.

After the war he became a distinguished features producer in Glasgow (his Edinburgh counterpart being Robert Kemp). He produced The McFlannels, the great radio soap of its day, and went on to become the power behind programmes ranging from Sportsreel to The Shetland Bus. He sparked off the idea of broadcasting commentaries from Ayr Racecourse — and engaged journalist and novelist George Blake to be his race commentator.

He retired from the BBC in the summer of 1970, his last position being that of General Programme Producer in Glasgow.[3]

However, he continued to do some work for the BBC, sometimes setting the questions for the popular quiz programme Superscot.

Inspiration for Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen

When Archie went south to work in London during the Second World War, he met a BBC colleague, Mel Webb, who asked if he knew anything about the Northern Lights which were supposed to appear in the Scottish sky. Archie explained that his mother came from Orkney and "when I was a lad, a tiny wee lad, my mother said to me: come see the Northern Lights my boy...". Thus, unwittingly, providing the inspiration for the song The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen. Mel married Mary Webb, who composed the tune, and he more or less reproduced Archie's words for the verse.[4]

Personal life

Lee died on 18 April 1998 after an illness.

He was survived by his son Jim, who managed the Nevis Bank Hotel in Fort William.

Archie was delighted that his enthusiasm for broadcasting was taken up by his granddaughter, Gina Lee, who went on to work in freelance film production for both the BBC and Scottish Television.

After divorce he had married Joan Fitzpatrick, the radio actress, but that too ended in divorce before Joan was killed in a car crash.


  1. BBC Handbook 1941, 72.
  2. Scottish Director to Directors-General, 'Scottish News Summary', 30 March 1942, BBC WAC R28/227.
  3. Broadcasting Council for Scotland minutes, 10 July 1970.
  4. Obituary, Glasgow Herald, 25 April 1998.
Media offices
First War News Editor
Succeeded by
Charles Anderson