Tributes have been paid following the death of broadcaster and former Edinburgh Evening News entertainment writer Colin Somerville

Colin SomervilleColin Somerville
Colin Somerville | other
TRIBUTES have been paid to former Evening News entertainment writer, broadcaster and lecturer Colin Somerville, after the announcement of his passing, by his family.

Colin, a champion of the Scottish music scene wrote regularly for the Evening News in the Nineties and was a familiar voice on Radio Forth a decade earlier. Former Evening News Features Editor, Helen Martin, recalls that Colin was brought on board to make the paper’s music coverage more relevant to a younger readership.

“Before Colin, John Gibson, then in his 60s, covered music, so I brought Colin in. He was so on the cusp of everything, he knew about both national music, the Scottish pop scene and specifically what was happening in Edinburgh. We were very proud to have got Colin, he wrote in a way that appealed to younger readers while still engaging with a general audience and he gave a unique insight into bands from and coming to Edinburgh.”.

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Colin who was 62 years old, came to the Capital from Comrie in Perthshire where he was raised the youngest of three, by his parents Jacqueline and William Somerville. During his time at Radio Forth he became a major force on local radio, working as journalist in the newsroom before becoming Head of Music.

The station’s former Breakfast Show host Bob Malcolm recalls, “One on my earliest recollections of Colin is from when I presented Bob’s Night School, every Monday evening. Colin was on duty in the newsroom on 5 May 1980, the night news broke of the end of Iranian Embassy siege. It happened as I was going on air with this light, music-led programme for kids. All the way through he would pop into the studio with updates.

“The following day we got a letter from the chief exec saying how brilliantly it had all been put together. That was all down to Colin, he was a top journalist with a love of music that saw him become Head of Music. I remember he would bring new songs to me and suggest I play them in the 8am slot, when we had the most listeners. One was Letter From America, another Sweet Little Mystery. I’d be wary of playing them, nobody had heard of The Proclaimers or Wet Wet Wet at the time, but Colin would say, ‘Just go with it Bob...’ and he was always right. He was a gentleman and a top man.”

Following his time on radio and at the Evening News, Colin reviewed music for the Scotland on Sunday and enjoyed time as a lecturer at Adam Smith College in Glenrothes, “inspiring” the next generation of media stars.

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Speaking for the family, Colin’s son Joe says, “As a family we want to thank everyone for their well wishes and kind messages. Many of you may not have known that dad had been battling dementia for the last few years. Your messages and stories are a heart warming reminder of the man our father was and the impact he had on the music and radio scene in his day, which we welcome at this difficult time.

“Our father was living with early onset dementia and was being cared for by the wonderful team at Manor Grange Care Home who kept him comfortable until he passed away. We are very grateful to them. Where life could be messy and unpredictable, something which our father often courted, he could always spin it in to a story and make it seem like he planned it all a long. A certain kind of genius to be admired, and admired he was.”

Tributes paid on Twitter included one from Edinburgh music guru Bruce Findlay who wrote, ‘I am very sad to hear Colin Somerville has died. Colin gave me a Sunday slot on Radio Forth (Bruce’s Sunday Joint) back in 1990 and then again a few year’s later with a four nights a week slot on Scot FM. He was a huge influence and champion of Scottish popular music. RIP Colin.”

Those sentiments were reflected by radio presenter Jim Gellatly who posted, ‘Very sad to hear of Colin Somerville’s passing. He championed some great new music on Radio Forth’s Scottish Waveband in the 80s. My thoughts with Colin’s family.”

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An example of Colin’s influence on the Scotland’s music scene was also highlighted by David Greig, artistic director of Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre, who tweeted, “Colin Somerville’s Radio Forth programmes introduced me to Scottish indie music in the Eighties. He defined my musical tastes. His voice is on dozens of the compilation tapes that I made as a schoolboy. I can conjure his voice right now. A gloriously good broadcaster. Vale.”