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Anne Milne: Romper Room presenter and Aberdeen businesswoman dies

Anne Milne on the set of Grampian Television's Romper Room.
Anne Milne on the set of Grampian Television's Romper Room.

Anne Milne’s career as a dancer in London was cut short but she still managed to live her life in the limelight.

The Aberdonian, who has died aged 83, went on to become one of the presenters of Grampian Television’s children’s programme, Romper Room, in the 1960s and 1970s.

And in a nod to her thwarted showbiz ambitions, Anne even choreographed her own funeral, including a star turn by a tap dancer.

Anne Milne and children have fun as part of Romper Room.

Anne joined a dance troupe in London in the 1950s but her mother asked her to return home after her father died.

Her daughter Caroline MacFarlane said: “The loss of her dancing career was her only major regret and she wanted a tap dancer to indicate that nothing could stop her.

“She planned the funeral back in 2014 but as the years went on, there were fewer and fewer people who would have remembered the significance of the dancer.

Anne Barclay (Milne) in her dancing days.

“So she compromised and we placed a pair of tap-dancing shoes on her coffin.”

Anne was a nursery proprietor when she began presenting Romper Room, which was broadcast live from Aberdeen each afternoon.

She later founded Aberdeen Kitchen Design with her late husband Jack Milne.

War years

Anne was born in June 1938 and adopted by Francis and Alice Barclay. During the war, the family lived at Bridge of Don and then Fraser Place, Aberdeen, where her father had a garage.

As a child, Anne had a passion for dancing which was encouraged by her instructor, Beryl Ewan.

Bright lights

When she was 18, Anne moved to London to join a dance troupe. It was a short-lived career. When her father died her mother wanted her to return to Aberdeen.

She made the most of her new life by opening a nursery at 48 Carden Place which she ran for seven or eight years.

In he early 1960s she met jazz musician and band leader Sandy West and the pair married in King’s College.

Anne and Sandy West on their wedding day.

Sandy, whose Jazzmen were the resident band at the Castle Club, was known throughout Scotland.

By the time Anne began presenting Romper Room in the late 1960s, she and Sandy had divorced.

Grampian TV listings from 1968.

There was little room for error during the live shows, said Caroline.

“My mother had a terror of spiders and when one made an appearance and crawled off the table, you could see her jump on air but she continued.

“The two characters on the show were bees drawn on a board. One was called Do Bee Good and the other was Don’t Bee Lazy.

On air

“Guests included the police, the Tufty Club and the zookeepers used to bring in animals.

“The presenters were called Miss Leslie, Miss June and my mum was Miss Anne.”

Anne went on to marry Grampian continuity presenter Graham Roberts and the couple set up home in Portlethen village with Caroline.

Anne Milne.

For a spell the family lived in London while Graham pursued his acting career. He later became continuity announcer on Yorkshire Television before landing the role of gamekeeper George Barford in The Archers on Radio 4.

Anne, and Caroline, had returned to Scotland where she met and married Jack Milne, managing director of Local Wholesalers in Crimon Place.

Business

The couple later sold the business and founded Aberdeen Kitchen Design at Summerhill Court, the first fitted kitchen supplier in the city.

They remained in business until the 1980s when they retired to a cottage on Dunecht estate.

Both Anne, and Jack, who had been treated for cancer, were great supporters of Roxburghe House.

Support

Together with Professor Jim Phillips and his assistant Maggie Clark, the couple raised money for a more comfortable ambulance to transport cancer patients.

Anne also volunteered at CLAN Cancer Support and helped out at pensioners’ social events in Garlogie.

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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