Donald H MacLean
a profile commissioned for a BBC internal publication
|Photo: Charlie Bibby (FT)|
Born in 1926 to an army engineer officer, Donald Hugh MacLean carved-out a remarkable career in broadcasting and business, reaching the pinnacle of this field as Chairman of the "Information Industries Council" in the Prime Minister's Cabinet Office.
The eldest of four children, an early home was Skelton Grange, a manor house near York where his father had become a director of the Rowntree chocolate company. His parents were both strong personalities, his mother being an able athlete who played hockey for Yorkshire.
His father created a number of new brands including "Black Magic" and "Kit Kat" which remain popular today. Donald recalls these early years with affection as a time when he was surrounded by dogs, pet rabbits, kindly Quaker 'uncles', and a house staffed by servants under a dignified butler called Hepworth.
Rowntree acquired one of Scotland's famous biscuit makers, Gray Dunn, and father MacLean was appointed Managing Director. The family made their home in Glasgow in what had been the residence of the Lord Provost. Donald recalls that the gateposts were adorned with the wrought-iron lamps that signified this fact, "with the globes removed to indicate 'ex'". There was a weekend house on Inchmurrin, an island on Loch Lomond, where the two MacLean boys learned to sail and discovered the hard way how to read the loch's treacherous weather.
Donald was transplanted from Bootham to Glasgow Academy which had produced a number of world-class figures who, in the thirties, came back in turn to officiate at the school's annual prize-giving. Collecting a General Knowledge prize he was impressed by the opinions, and the towering presence, of Lord Reith, creator of the BBC.