Remember Tim?

My mind has been wandering recently… thinking about things from when I was young.

Things that we didn’t think twice about at the time.  Some were almost essentials.

But mention them to anyone under a certain age now… and you’ll just get a blank expression.

So I thought I’d share some of my nostaglic wanderings with you in the hope that you’d enjoy them… starting today.

Do you remember TIM, AKA the speaking clock?

Back before the days of mobile phones & tablets, radio controlled clocks etc

When computers were still the size of rooms and featured those big tape reels that used to whirl round at irregular intervals…

… and they had lots of flashing lights (or was that just on the telly?)


Heavens before even Teletext…

The only way to find out the exact time was to either

1) wait for the pips on the hour on the radio

2) phone the speaking clock (or TIM as we called it).

When I was little (late 60s early 70s) TIM was a lady called Pat Simmons. If you’re a child of that era I bet this takes you back…

Listen To The Speaking Clock: 1963-1985

In 1985 it changed to a gent called Brian Cobby. Typical of the 1980’s that’s when the iconic message

“At the third stroke the time will be 10.59 and 20 seconds” was amended to “the time sponsored by Accurist will be…”

I always thought that Brian sounded like the man who voiced over the Mr Kipling adverts.

Mmmmmmmmm… Mr Kipling Almond Slices

He wasn’t.

And it seems that Mr Cobby was a little bit of a fibber (at least according to Wikipedia so please take this with a pinch of salt…).

He claimed to have voiced “5-4-3-2-1… Thunderbirds are go!” at the beginning of every Thunderbirds episode. And indeed he did, according to Wikipedia, create a recording of that epic countdown for the BBC in 1965.

Problem is… recording of Thunderbirds started in 1964… coundown and all!

So it’s thought that Brian’s recording may have been for a Thunderbirds Tracey Island toy (doesn’t have quite the kudos, does it?). Still at least we can be certain it wasn’t the Blue Peter cardboard, yoghurt pots, paper maché and Anthea Turner version!


Anyway, enough about what Brian didn’t do… want to be reminded of Brian’s golden tones? You can hear them here…

Listen To The Speaking Clock: 1985-2007

Nostalgic gold.

Please Spread The Word!
  • Michael says:

    It used to be free… but the speaking clock now costs 50p… that’s 10 shillings in old money.

    Just imagine what people in 1950 (when the UK state pension was £1.36 – well I know they wouldn’t have known it as £1.36 but it would have been in pounds, shillings and pence but you know what I mean) – would think of that.

    Mind you… with clocks absolutely everywhere these days… do you still call the speaking clock? I’d love to know why if you do…

  • Roy says:

    I remember my mum and dad saying that it was disgusting that a pint of beer was 16p and a gallon of petrol was 40p. My pocket money at that time was 50p a week. Happy times.

  • Rita says:

    What about the other service you could get on the phone. Dial a disc, started in the mid 1960,s I think. This predated you tube, and other music streaming services. All you had to do was dial 160 and you got the disc of the day.

  • Sandie Kelsey-White says:

    Took me back. We didn’t have a telephone when I was 12 in 1962. I rang the local police station when I missed the last bus and they nipped round to tell my mum I’d stay at my friends and be back tomorrow.

  • Linda says:

    And how about recipe of the day? My mother was a rotten cook, but she thought she was ok. I used to fantasize about the great things she could be cooking if only………. Thank heaven for convenience food, or I’d have starved!


    Brought back many happy memories. Thank you 🤣

  • Ian says:

    At the third strike the time sponsored by Jo Swinson will be 12 midnight aka oblivion !!! ( sorry but it’s scary)

    • jonnie says:

      And if it was voiced by Boris there’d be no point calling as you wouldn’t be able to believe what he said…
      Scarier and truer

  • Nicola says:

    As kids we loved phoning up to get the time and “dial-a-disc” how easily we were pleased in the old days.

    • Jacquie says:

      We used to do the same and call for the test match cricket scores even though we weren’t particularly interested in them:-)

  • k harrison says:

    I remember the Pips on the radio
    when on holiday at Me Nans in Derbyshire
    An having a watch with Snow white So we knew what time to be home happy Memories

  • Helen Grogan says:

    Wasn’t it Gerry Anderson himself that voiced the countdown on Thunderbirds?
    You didn’t explain why the speaking clock was called *TIM*. It was because in the early days of the telephone the dial had both letters and numbers and you would dial the 3-letter name of the exchange followed by a 4 digit number (eg Scotland Yard was WHItehall 1212) In the case of the speaking clock you just dialed the 3 letters representing TIMe and everyone called it TIM

  • Nancy Townsend says:

    I remember the voice of Pat Simmons. That brought back memories. Don’t recognise Brian’s voice though. I must have stopped listening to TIM by then.

  • HAZEL YOUNG says:

    I remember the speaking clock, can’t recall dial a disc though

    • Dee says:

      Hull Telephones had all sorts of “Dial …….” options from the time to live football & rugby commentaries. All for free too

  • Sharon says:

    If mum or dad needed the right time we kids used to argue over who got to ring the speaking clock! Now there’s a clock on everything.

  • Deborah Shilleto says:

    On the subject of old fashioned phones. I visited a stately home in the summer and they had items that you could interact with and one was the phone pictured above, two young girls were studying it on how to use it lol, I preceded to show them and they were so excited to have a go, actually made my day.

  • Lesley says:

    My great aunt was the only person in our area with a phone in the 1970’s, everyone used to come knocking at her door to use it, she used to put a “posh” voice on whenever she answered the phone, but she never let us kids use it so never got to hear TIM or dial-a-disc -sulk.

  • Paul Middleton says:

    I remember watching “Watch with Mother”, there were the Wooden Tops, Bill & Ben, Andy Pandy and who can forget Tales of the Riverbank with Hammy Hamster!

  • Sandra Davidson says:

    Love love your blog

  • Donald Monk says:

    I used to pester my Mum for us to get a telephone . . . even though there was a public call box just outside of our house. Mum soon put the mockers on that by asking me who I’d call, ’cause I didn’t actually know anybody else who had a phone.

  • Jacqueline says:

    I used to secretly play with are old black telephone it was like pretending to talk to someone while playing as a little girl with a vivid imagination that it was a different person each time. I liked dialing the numbers and seeing the dial go round, and I would copy how my Mum would sit and hold the receiver. So many disgruntled people who I had managed to actually call and who had to listen to my ramblings, that and not putting the receiver down properly so the call was still connected did not go down well with my parents.

    They unplugged it! Lol

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