Bryan Burnett

16th December 2011 at 00:00
The presenter of BBC Radio Scotland's `Get it On' would not have ventured into journalism without one man's influence

I went to Summerhill school. Not the famous one (the original "free" school in England), the one in Aberdeen, although it had a bit of a reputation, too. My best teacher was my English teacher, Mr McIntyre, who opened my eyes to the idea of working in the media and wanting to be a journalist.

Before he became a teacher he used to be a journalist on the Press and Journal and he used to tell us great stories about working there. In Aberdeen, the Pamp;J was the equivalent of The Times and The Guardian rolled into one - it was a prestigious publication. He made journalism sound like a really exciting profession.

Coming from a working-class background and a school where you were told to get a safe job and follow the same path as everyone else, he more than just inspired me - he made me see that it was possible to do more.

You could chase that idea and stick with it. He taught us never to be afraid to have strong ideas and to show our ideas.

He was always encouraging. He encouraged us to go out and read the newspapers every day and he made me fall in love with writing stories.

Right from the first essay, I always remember him telling us about the power of a good intro, an intro which hooks you in and makes the story different. It's something that I apply to every show I present. Even now I think, "What's my opener?"

I haven't really seen him since I left school because I left Aberdeen, but he is still in Aberdeen I think. My mother has bumped into him a few times and she keeps him up to date.

He has followed my career and I hope he takes a bit of pride in that and understands that if it wasn't for him I might still have ended up in journalism but I certainly would not have had the confidence to pursue it at that age. He inspired me to write reviews for the paper while I was still at school.

He wore what every teacher then wore, the suit and tie, and he had a mop of curly hair which he was always playing with. It wasn't that he was eccentric but he had that kind of element about him. He was a great one for leaping about the classroom and I always thought he was really tall. He made all the other teachers seem dull, I was gutted when he wasn't my teacher any more.

Just before I went to Summerhill, there had been a headteacher there who had really relaxed the rules and it had gone through a pretty turbulent time. Things had calmed down a lot when I arrived. It was a really modern school and an exciting place. I liked it. It wasn't too strict and you didn't have to wear uniform.

It was not the best school though and mostly you were encouraged to go on to do something that your mum and dad had done. Mr McIntyre always encouraged us to be creative.

Another good teacher we had was Miss Duncan, our drama and form teacher, who was fab. She went on to become a continuity announcer on Grampian TV and it was great hearing your teacher saying: "And now on Grampian TV, it's time for Callum's Ceilidh". She was quite pretty, a bit like Joanna Lumley.

There was also Miss Gray, a maths teacher. She was always very prim and proper, with a twinset - a very "hair in a bun" teacher. At the end of term we had a week where the teachers all ran mini-clubs on their interests and I remember thinking it was really strange that Miss Gray's was on the films of Elvis Presley. I went along because I thought it would be fun and there she was, this mad Elvis fan.

Bryan Burnett was talking to Julia Horton


Born: 1965, Aberdeen

Education: Muirfield Primary and Summerhill Academy, Aberdeen

Career: Reporter at DC Thomson working on Jackie and Blue Jeans, before moving into broadcasting at Northsound Radio, Aberdeen, then Radio Clyde, STV and BBC Radio Scotland.

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