Liz's career takes off at the double

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 December, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 December, 1994, 12:00am

LIZ Case still thinks she should be playing a Bach concerto when reality intrudes and she puts Fine Young Cannibals on to the turntable.

Twenty-eight-year-old Liz has been presenting - and producing - RTHK Radio Three's Lunchtime Show for two months now, having leapt channels from the government station's classical Radio 4 where she was behind the arts show, Artbeat.

And the next excursion into this less rarefied world comes from 6.45pm tonight in the Operation Santa special live from the Godown in the Furama Hotel.

Liz will be quizmistress for the Boozers' Christmas Quiz while Harvey Crump supervises live music and high jinx for the Christmas fund-raising effort, including raffles for British Airways Club Class tickets to London and a woolly jumper belonging to the Governor.

It is a long way from continuity announcing between classical discs on Radio Four. Born in Winchester in southern England, Liz came to Hong Kong in January 1990, desperate to break into radio after studying English at Newcastle University.

'A friend living in Hong Kong knew that radio had always been a passion - I was an Archers' baby, a Woman's Hour worshipper - and she told me about BFBS.' So Liz made a demo tape for the forces' broadcasting service.

'The BFBS heard my demo and thought: 'Well, bless her, she's tried very hard but she obviously hasn't got very much experience'. But because I showed willing when someone broke a rib or something I stood in for one of the personal assistants.

'I ended up working for them for a year in Tamar, fielding interviews for the morning programme, running the studio on a day-to-day basis and gradually learning editing techniques. It was a great grounding,' Liz says.

During the Gulf crisis Liz found herself with a sensitive task when the station linked up with the Gulf where the British troops were based.

'The wives would call up for dedications to their husbands and I can remember saying in this earnest voice: 'I can't name the battalion because we can't let this sort of information go out'. It was quite frightening,' Liz admits.

She joined Radio Four in 1991 and as the channel became more relaxed under Richard Tsang, Liz wound up co-presenting Artbeat with Karina Zabihi and until recently, fronting the twice-weekly show.

'There seems to be a growing international interest in coming to Hong Kong. For whatever reasons, the Far East, as a whole, has become a new regional destination,' Liz says.

'English-language theatre companies are springing up like nothing else on Earth. I don't know whether it's because there's more input from people from overseas bringing ideas into Hong Kong, but it's almost like over-saturation.' And Liz is part of that theatre scene, having visited Hanoi with the Hong Kong Players in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and most recently appearing in Moliere's Tartuffe at the Fringe with the Queen's Cafe Company.

'My first appearance on stage was at the age of five as a pantomime horse's bottom. Nowadays I usually get cast as men or tarts,' she laughs. 'When I used to do film dubbing I was always the old woman with the chicken in Cantonese films.' 'I suppose I'm one of those common cases of people who always wanted to go on stage but never actually did,' Liz says.

She admits that although she had grown up with music, studying the flute and piano until she was 16, she has learnt a lot about the classics in the past four years. But her favourite role is interviewing.

'I'm still finding exactly what part of broadcasting I really suit. The bit I enjoy the most is the interviewing: having someone to talk to.' It hasn't always been easy, although most of the famous names she has met, she says, have been more nervous than her.

'There was once a cellist who liked to try and correct everything I said. He enjoyed trying to make me feel uncomfortable.' Liz's job on the Lunchtime Show - it came as a complete surprise after her summer break when she was chosen to succeed Cindy Wieringa - gives her the opportunity to conduct interviews and roundtable discussions dedicated to such issues as the environment.

Life is not all serious though. She's busy co-writing the RTHK Christmas panto to be recorded this week. It promises all kinds of fun for the station's presenters. Ralph Pixton had better hang on to his stockings.