Johnny Dennis: tributes to the voice of Lord’s
Cricket announcer appeared in Dr Who, The Bill and The Great Escape II
12 December, 2016 — By Alina Polianskaya
Johnny Dennis, the voice of Lord’s Cricket Ground. PHOTO: MCC
THE man affectionately known as the voice of Lord’s Cricket Ground, Johnny Dennis, died last Saturday, aged 76.
Tributes have flooded in for Johnny, who worked as a PA announcer at the iconic cricket ground in St John’s Wood since the 1970s.
Marylebone Cricket Club announced his passing on Monday, and said: “Johnny was a very popular man and part of the furniture at Lord’s. He will be sorely missed by everyone at the home of cricket. His unique, warm tone quickly became part of the Lord’s experience.”
A keen cricketer himself, Johnny landed the announcing role through a chance encounter, while he was playing for the Lord’s Taverners. He then started working as a deputy and for the past 18 years was the most senior announcer.
The MCC spokesman added: “Dennis’s Lord’s career began after a chance meeting with Test Match Special commentator Brian Johnston, while playing for the Lord’s Taverners. Johnston recommended Dennis to Alan Curtis, who was the full-time Lord’s announcer and, like Dennis, an actor.
“Curtis had been called off to work on a Carry On film and asked Dennis to step in to cover him. This was the first of many occasions on which Dennis would deputise throughout the 1970s and 1980s and he flourished instantly, becoming very popular among MCC members and other supporters at Lord’s.”
Speaking in an old interview on Lord’s YouTube channel in 2013, Johnny said he always felt at home at Lord’s.
On the topic of pre-test match nerves, he said in the video: “Once the ball has been bowled, as the moment an actor walks on the stage, nerves are gone. Technique takes over.”
He felt that the cricket ground has the capacity to make people “feel welcome” when they visit – which is also what he aimed to do in his role.
He said in the video: “The people that work here feel very proud to be here… I feel very privileged and proud to be here, so there is an enthusiasm for them to share that enthusiasm with the crowd.”
As an actor Johnny appeared in numerous films and TV shows including Dr Who, The Bill, The Great Escape II and Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire.
Many cricketers and commentators paid tribute to Johnny on social media, including Jonathan Agnew, who said on Twitter: “Very sorry to hear the voice of English cricket grounds, Johnny Dennis died today. Such a kind man with a naughty twinkle in his eye”.