Stephen Jardine

6th April 2012 at 01:00
Two teachers - one an exotic bon vivant, the other a school newspaper champion - truly inspired the broadcaster

I actually have two favourite teachers, for very different reasons. The one that first springs to mind is a guy called Bill Smith, who was my history teacher. I went on to study history and English, probably inspired by him.

He was a bachelor, he was a bon vivant, he smoked like a chimney - he was like no other teacher I had ever met before. He spoke to us as young adults and I'd like to think that by the time I left school I had become a friend of his. About half a dozen of us would actually stay on after history lessons just to shoot the breeze with him and talk about whatever was in the news at that time.

He didn't hang about in the staffroom with the other teachers; he preferred to go out and smoke a fag on the playing field. I just thought he was great. I think I would have been about 15 or 16, and I was probably sneaking the odd fag myself.

At that time, there were still a lot of strict disciplinarians at the schools, and the belt was still applied. Bill Smith wasn't like that. He had a very different way of teaching. Whatever the lesson was, he found a way of making it relevant to us. He was fun, and he made me enjoy a subject in a way I didn't think was possible.

I thought he was exotic and fabulous, especially when in the latter stages of my time at school, he started going out with one of the other teachers, which was strictly forbidden, and of course it had to be kept quiet. I just thought that was fantastic.

He was probably in his fifties when he taught me - silver-haired, very debonair. I always thought he looked like he stepped out of an Ealing comedy or something like that. A real silver fox, always very well dressed, always had a grin, and always smelled very strongly of cigarette smoke.

I hope he is still with us, and I really wish him all the best because he was that rarest of things - a really inspirational teacher.

The other teacher was Mr Macadam, my English teacher in fifth and sixth year. He had a lively, engaging style and was very good at bringing alive and explaining texts. But the reason I really chose him is because he singlehandedly kept alive the school newspaper and the school magazine. My dad worked in local newspapers, so I had a vague interest in it, but didn't really think I would make a career out of it.

But Mr Macadam encouraged me to get involved, and I ended up editing the school newspaper and going on to edit the school magazine. He really encouraged me, supported me and told me that I had the ability to do something with those skills.

It was because of him I then went on to work on the student newspaper at Edinburgh University and it was because of him that I went on to do journalism as a postgraduate down at Cardiff and got into the business. So I owe him a lot.

He could have chosen anybody, but he chose me, because he thought I was the best person to do it. And that gave me a self-belief that I probably hadn't had before. George Macadam died a few years ago, but he was absolutely in part responsible for what I have done with my life, and I am always grateful for that.

When I went looking for a school for my son to be educated in, what I wanted was a replica of Dumfries Academy, and I think that is probably the best tribute anybody can give to a teacher. They sent me on a really good course in life, and a course I would like to pass on to my own family.

Stephen Jardine was talking to Julia Belgutay.


Born: Dumfries, 1963

Education: Loreburne Primary; Dumfries Academy Primary; Dumfries Academy; University of Edinburgh; University College Cardiff

Career: Trainee reporter, Radio Tay, Dundee; trainee news reporter, STV; correspondent for GMTV; journalist, presenter and broadcaster, director of Taste Communications.

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