Gordon Gow was born in Windsor in December 1919, the son of Arthur Gow and Kathleen nee Gordon. A clever boy, he entered the faculty of Arts and Law of Sydney University when he was just seventeen.
In 1937 he was invited to the Henry George League of NSW to deliver a lecture at its weekly meeting. The topic was Shakespeare and it was reported in the media at the time that the seventeen year old, was very talented, had an “outstanding memory” and was mature for his age.
With an attractive speaking voice Gordon established himself in broadcasting, making his debut with 2UE, working as a film critic and later as an announcer. He had constant work on radio working both with the ABC and commercial radio in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. He built himself a reputation not only in radio but also in the Sydney theatrical circles, with a number of creditable stage performances. In 1941, he travelled to Brisbane and took up a position with radio 4BC as an actor-announcer.
In 1949 he travelled with his wife Joyce to England for a holiday but the couple eventually stayed on. By the 1950s they were living in London and Gordon was working as a radio and film reporter for the Associated British Film Corporation. He was also recording interviews with many distinguished stars including Bette Davis, Burt Lancaster, Douglas Fairbanks and Michael Wilding, Elizabeth Taylor’s second husband.
He was known for his contribution to various newspapers and magazines, about the theatre, performers and movies. Gordon also authored several books in the 1970s focusing on the cinema. The couple remained in the UK for about 50 years before returning to Australia in the 1990s. Gordon Gow died in 2000 at the age of 81.
Although readers may not recognise his name, Gordon Gow’s voice is quite recognisable to those born in the 20th century, and used to phone up to confirm the time. Gordon was the voice for the talking clock, commonly referred to as ‘George the talking clock’ for nearly thirty years. He recorded the service in London in 1954 and the pre-recording was used to announce the time throughout Australia for the Postmaster-General's (PMG) Department, later known as Telecom.
In 1954 George the speaking clock was installed which provided an automatic, accurate time service. It was very modern piece of engineering which “synthetised the time from three different optical discs.” Gordon originally recorded the sound for the discs, including the well-known “At the third stroke …” For a period of time, the identity of the voice was kept a secret but then revealed to the media several months later. Gordon Gow passed away, aged 80 on 16 August 2000.
|Gow's obituary from the Australian 18 September 2000|
The voice of Richard Peach, brother to Bill Peach and ABC broadcaster, was recorded in the 1980s, and replaced Gow’s recording in the 1990s. Richard died in 2008 aged 58. Richard’s voice could still be heard when ringing 1194 for the time, until the service was last heard on 30 September 2019 and you can listen to a sample here. The clock was originally housed in the GPO in Martin Place but is now housed in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. You can check this out on this Youtube clip.