Melville Dinwiddie

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Melville Dinwiddie
Born (1892-07-18)18 July 1892
Ruthwell Manse, Dumfries & Galloway
Died 12 June 1975(1975-06-12) (aged 82)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Education Dumfries Academy
Alma mater
  • Edinburgh University
  • Minister
  • BBC Scottish Regional Director
  • BBC Controller, Scotland
Predecessor David Cleghorn Thomson
Successor Andrew Stewart
  • Rev John Linton Dinwiddie
  • Agnes M. Melville

The Reverend Melville Dinwiddie, DSO, OBE, MC, BD (18 July 1892—12 Jun 1975) was the BBC's Scottish Regional Director from 1933 to 1957, a period just short of 24 years.

Early life

Melville Dinwiddie was the second son of the Rev John Linton Dinwiddie, Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire.

He was educated at Dumfries Academy from 1904–1910 and at Edinburgh University from 1910, gaining an MA in 1914. His subjects included English Literature, British and Scottish History, and History of Art. He was President of the Christian Union and Hon. Secretary of the University Musical Society.

Service in the Great War

Dinwiddie was a divinity student when the First World War broke out and immediately joined-up. He was commissioned as a second-lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders in August 1914 and served with the 1st Gordons in France from January 1915 to July 1916.

In July 1916 he was appointed Staff Captain of the 76th Infantry Brigade.

In September 1917 he was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, 46th Division and served at GHQ in France from November 1917 to September 1919.

He was Acting Adjutant, 2nd Gordons, from January to March 1920, and Bridge-Major, Seaforth and Cameron Brigade, Inverness, March–May 1920.

He was staff captain at the War Office from May 1920 to 1924.

He retired from the regular army, with the rank of Major, on completion of 10 years' service in August 1924.

He served with distinction throughout the conflict, awarded the Military Cross (MC) in July 1915; the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in August 1917; and Order of the British Empire (OBE) in December 1918. He was mentioned in dispatches six times.


In 1920, Dinwiddie married Margaret Arnott Guild (1892–1985), elder daughter of the late Alexander Guild, WS, Edinburgh. They had four children: John, Mona, Arna and James.

Religious service

After retiring from the Army, Dinwiddie returned to Edinburgh and took the curtailed one-year divinity course for war-privileged students.[1]

A member of the Church of Scotland, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in March 1925 and served for a short time as assistant at South Leith Church. After completing his degree, he was ordained assistant minister of St Machar Cathedral, Aberdeen in September 1925. Upon the death of the Rev Dr MacGilchrist, the Cathedral was made one charge in 1928 and Dinwiddie appointed minister of it, looking after a congregation of town and country members numbering nearly 3,500.

During his eight years' ministry in Aberdeen, Dinwiddie proved especially popular with ex-servicemen and the unemployed. He served as chaplain to the 4th Gordons (TA) from 1928, and was convener of the Council of the Aberdeen Association for Self-Help of the Unemployed. He held meetings for unemployed men in his church hall and helped set-up various social centres for them in the city.

Dinwiddie was also Honorary Adminsitrative Padre of Toc H, and Padre of the Aberdeen Branch from its inception in 1927.

Other qualifications and interests

Dinwiddie recorded the following details on his BBC staff record in 1934:

Languages (spoken or written): French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew

Music: Choral and solo, signing as amateur. Thorough interest in orchestral work.

Visual Arts: Ecclesiastical architecture.

Literature: Theological, mainly studied, but good general critical knowledge.

Drama: Taken part in amateur productions.

Hobbies: Caravanning.

Games: Golf, tennis badminton.

Appointment as BBC Scottish Regional Director

On 28 June 1933, the BBC Board of Governors agreed that the post of Scottish Regional Director should be offered to Dinwiddie.[2] The next day Reith wrote to Dinwiddie informing him of the offer. Dinwiddie duly accepted and revealed the news to his congregation that Sunday.[3] [4]

Dinwiddie officially joined the Corporation on Friday 1 September 1933, although it was on the following Monday that he first reported for duty.[5] His first two weeks were spent at Head Office in London shadowing various officials and receiving training. Dinwiddie started work in Scotland on Monday 18 September.

He moved into a house at 24 Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh (although his own headed notepaper later stated no. 22)

Attitude to home rule in broadcasting

In a newspaper article in 1935, Dinwiddie made it quite explicit that he believed Scottish broadcasting could only flourish within a wider British-based system of broadcasting:

"[I]t would have been a sad day for Scotland if she had been left on her own in broadcasting. No-one can doubt that there is abundance of material and expert technical knowledge in our country, but broadcasting is so wide in its implications, so intensive in its presentation, and so general in its effect, that it is only through the widest co-operation that the best results can be obtained."[6]


Dinwiddie was awarded a CBE in the King's Birthday Honours List of June 1943.

Controller, Scotland

From 2 February 1948, Dinwiddie's job title changed from Scottish Regional Director to Controller, Scotland.

From April 1948, he also took over as Senior Regional Controller in succession to Mr Edgar.[7]


In line with BBC rules, Dinwiddie was due to retire on his 60th birthday, which fell on 18 July 1952. However, with the BBC's new Charter coming into operation around that time, the Director General asked if he could carry on until the end of July 1953, and then again until July 1954.

Dinwiddie was happy to oblige as he had no intention of returning to the active Ministry of the Church upon retiral. Furthermore, he found the work of broadcasting as fascinating as ever, noting that it would be "a privilege to take a part in establishing television in Scotland".[8]

In March 1954 he agreed to stay on until his 65th birthday, subject to remaining fit enough to do the job.

Dinwiddie finally retired from the BBC on 27 July 1957, handing over his duties as Controller, Scotland to Andrew Stewart on 8 July.


Date Grade Salary (£) Comments
1 Sep 1933 A 1,250
1 Jan 1935 1,500
1 Apr 1936 1,600
1 Apr 1937 A4 1,700
1 Apr 1939 1,850
1 Sep 1939 1,892
1 Sep 1940 1,992
1 Sep 1941 2,000
1 Jul 1946 A+ 2,150 Special increment for A+ staff
1 Jan 1949 2,300
1 Oct 1950 2,400
1 Dec 1951 2,650 Increase B.O.G. 6 Dec 1957
1 Jan 1954 3,150 Increase B.O.G. 4 Feb 1954
1 Jan 1955 3,650
1 Jan 1957 3,850

Source: BBC WAC L2/53/1



  1. 'Addressing Brotherhood', Evening Telegraph, 12 November 1949, 6.
  2. Minutes of Board of Governors meeting, 28 June 1933, BBC WAC R1/3/1.
  3. 'New Scottish Regional Director', Scotsman, 3 July 1933, 8.
  4. 'New BBC chief for Scotland', Glasgow Herald, 3 July 1933, 13.
  5. 'Mr Dinwiddie to start duties on Monday', Glasgow Herald, 29 August 1933, 11; also see BBC WAC L2/53/1.
  6. 'What broadcasting is doing for Scotland', Glasgow Weekly Herald Radio Supplement, 2 March 1935, 11.
  7. Extract from Board of Management meeting, 5 April 1948, BBC WAC L2/53/1.
  8. Dinwiddie to DG, 6 December 1951 & 18 May 1953, BBC WAC L2/53/1.
Media offices
Preceded by
David Cleghorn Thomson
Scottish Director
Succeeded by
Andrew Stewart