Tony Scotland (photo by Adam Bager)
Photo by Adam Bager

Tony Scotland was born in Buckinghamshire in 1945, three weeks after V. E. Day. His mother had featured in propaganda posters as an ambulance driver in the Princess Royal Volunteer Corps at the start of the war, and by the end she was an officer commanding an anti-aircraft unit in the south of England. His father fought in Egypt and Italy as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines and after the war he joined Shell in Puerto Rico, where Tony learned Spanish as his first language. Later the family moved to Nigeria, where his father ran a brewery.

At the age of six Tony was sent to boarding school in England, but spent rather more time acting than studying.  He finished his formal education at fifteen and joined his godfather’s newspaper group as an apprentice journalist. After serving out his indentures on the Harwich and Dovercourt, Manningtree and Mistley Standard and the East Essex Gazette, he emigrated to Australia, aged 19, and found work first on the Sydney Morning Herald and then as a television reporter with the ABC in Hobart, Tasmania.

Returning to England in 1968, he joined BBC Television as a reporter and presenter on the Norwich- based Look East, before moving to London as a sub-editor in the radio newsroom. In 1972 he became an announcer on Radio Three, in a team of golden voices and idiosyncratic personalities, led by Cormac Rigby, with, amongst others, Patricia Hughes, Tom Crowe, Robin Holmes, Peter Barker and John Holmstrom. Simultaneously he and the writer Nigel Lewis created, wrote and produced a new radio programme called The Arts Worldwide.

Tony left Radio Three in 1992 and joined the new Classic FM to advise on pronunciation. But he was soon heard across its airwaves, presenting operas, a sponsored sonnet programme, and reading his way through the Old Testament in short instalments on Sunday mornings.

Since resigning from Classic FM in 1998, Tony has worked as a freelance writer. His articles have been published in The Spectator, Harpers & Queen, Sunday Telegraph, The Independent, House & Garden, the BBC History Magazine, the Catholic Herald, and Erotic Review.

As well as music, his interests include letterpress printing, gardening, history and foreign travel – particularly in Eastern Europe and the Far East. It was while visiting China with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1981 that he first became fascinated by the clash of East and West that marked the decline of the Manchu dynasty, and of past and future that marked the startling transformation from feudal imperialism to Communism. This laid the foundation of his first book, The Empty Throne – the Quest for an Imperial Heir in the People’s Republic of China.

Granted long-service leave by the BBC in 1989, Tony undertook an extensive journey through Central and Eastern Europe to learn about the realities of Soviet Communism. This led to a second, as yet unpublished, account of everyday life in the Eastern bloc a few months before the collapse of the Wall. It also led to a strong connection with Bulgaria, and the formation in 1999 of the Bulgarian Orphans Fund, which continues to provide food and clothing and other necessities for orphans and handicapped children in state-run homes and schools in the Balkans.

In the year in which he joined Radio Three Tony met Julian Berkeley (second son of Lennox and Freda), who was then working as a music journalist, and for the final ten years of Lennox’s life they lived with his family in Little Venice. As early as 1975 Tony began researching the history of the Berkeley and Bernstein families, and in 1998 he started working on a life of Lennox, which became, of its own accord, Lennox & Freda.