John Gough

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John Gough, born in Tasmania, was a features producers for the BBC's Scottish Region during the 1930s.

BBC career

Gough worked in 'balance and control' at the Queen Street studios in Edinburgh, responsible for everything from sound effects to balancing and controlling sound levels. As Pat Walker describes it: "it was a job that required a minimum of engineering knowledge and an extremely fertile imagination and for 30 years was considered the kindergarten for radio producers". [1] Gough worked closely alongside producers such as Gordon Gildard. He was also a member of the Scottish Feature Programme Committee and, by December 1935, he had become a full-time features producer.

After six years as a feature producer he went to London as a senior instructor in the BBC's staff training department.


Gough wrote a series of plays highlighting histories of the Scottish regiments, including The Thin Red Line: the Royal Scots, A Chronicle Play of the Regiment, The Black Watch and The Highland Light Infantry.

Mary, Queen of Scots play

In 1936 the Drama Department in London was preparing a series for the National Programme on famous trials, and wanted to include the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots. Naturally, Val Gielgud expected to broadcast the drama from Scotland. But when he sent the script to BBC Scotland, the staff there found it utterly unacceptable. John Gough, as features producer, lamented the inclusion of the trial of Mary in the series, "unless it be to expose it for the travesty it was". He complained that the script "comes almost to the point of persuading one that Elizabeth might have been honourable and right," and concluded "we can do better." In another memo, Gough referred to the script derisively as "Hollywood."[2] When Andrew Stewart sent Gielgud an alternative script by a Scottish academic, the latter, somewhat bemused, reminded Stewart that their first priority was to produce an entertaining programme, not defend the honour of Scotland.[3] The matter was settled only after a third script was produced under Gough's supervision.

In a separate memo to Stewart, Gough railed against the English view of Mary Queen of Scots and the Scottish, in strong language: "It may be, of course, that DFD [Gielgud] will take the smooth English attitude that what happened four hundred years ago does not matter much now provided the script plays well. For myself, I cannot be party to that view... An event of such enormous historical importance must not be forced into the position of being a mere show; in other words, Mary Stewart must not be butchered all over again to make an English holiday."[4]


  1. Walker (2011), The BBC in Scotland: the first 50 years, (Edinburgh: Luath Press), 99.
  2. Gough to Andrew Stewart, 1 October 1936, BBC WAC SC9/82/1. Gough to Moray McLaren, 12 July 1937, BBC WAC SC9/82/2.
  3. Val Gielgud to Andrew Stewart, 7 October 1936, BBC WAC SC9/82/1.
  4. Gough to Stewart, 23 October 1936, BBC WAC SC9/82/1.