Boucher, Edgar William John ('Billy') (1918–2003), musician and broadcaster, was born 5 December 1918 in Dublin, the son of George Alexander Boucher, a plumber, and his wife Sarah Maria (née Jones), a dressmaker; he had two older brothers and two or three older sisters. The family lived for many years at 3 Lombard Street West, near Lower Clanbrassil Street. Working-class urban protestantism formed the milieu within which young Boucher grew up; his parents valued education, religious observance, and music. For fifty-five years, George A. Boucher's father George (d. 1922), a gas fitter, had been sexton in the Church of Ireland congregation of St Peter's, Dublin, and George A. Boucher in turn was verger in St Catherine's church on Thomas Street. Billy, as he was called by family and friends, attended St Catherine's national school (1923–7). In 1927 he became a chorister in St Patrick's cathedral, and thereafter received his education in St Patrick's grammar school. Throughout his school days, he took music lessons in Miss Patricia Read's well-known school in Harcourt Street, and also in the Royal Irish Academy of Music with George Hewson (qv). He was frequently successful in competitions, even travelling to Belfast as a 14-year-old in 1933 to compete in the Belfast Musical Festival. At the age of 15, he was organist of Christ Church, Bray; two years later, still at school, he was organist and choirmaster of Adelaide Road presbyterian church.
Academically as well as musically gifted, in 1936 he was awarded a scholarship to TCD, the first member of his family to attend university, and was senior exhibitioner in 1938. He considered a career in the church and studied philosophy, graduating BA with a first-class moderatorship and a gold medal, and was appointed to a lectureship in logic in the college, but decided instead to make his life in music. In 1940, as a student in the department of music, he was awarded a foundation scholarship, and he graduated with a B.Mus. degree in 1942.
Boucher continued his involvement with music in Dublin; after graduation he was organist of Rathgar methodist church and was assistant organist in Christ Church cathedral, Dublin (1943–7). He trained and accompanied choirs, particularly in recitals of church music, and regularly played in concerts which Radio Éireann broadcast in the 1940s. In 1947, just before he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music by TCD, Boucher was appointed music assistant in the BBC in Northern Ireland. He joined just after regional broadcasting had started again after wartime difficulties, and faced a disheartening lack of facilities. His patient efforts to enhance the musical output were eventually successful. In 1948 the BBC Northern Ireland Light Orchestra was established, and this developed into the Ulster Orchestra. Locally-made programmes and Ulster performers were popular additions to network schedules. He was responsible for encouraging many young performers through his involvement over many years in all aspects of musical life in Ulster, and was active in the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, and later in its successor, the Arts Council.
Over the years Boucher made a number of broadcasts on the various BBC radio networks, especially talks on music, but his success in the 1970s as the presenter of the Songs of praise television programmes that went out from Northern Ireland was somewhat unexpected. His Dublin accent, gentle manner, and evident knowledge of and love for church music brought him sackfuls of fan mail. He was well known and well regarded as an adjudicator in music festivals, not only in Ireland but also in Canada, the Middle East, and Hong Kong. He provided an essay on classical music in the influential work edited by Michael Longley, Causeway: the arts in Ulster (1971).
Boucher retired in 1980. He had married Margaret (Peggy) Eveleen Johnston from Newcastle, Co. Down, in the presbyterian church, Newcastle, on 14 July 1943. They had one daughter, Meriel, who died aged 20 on 27 January 1966, after falling from a fourth-storey window ledge of the Robinson and Cleaver shop in Belfast city centre. Peggy Boucher pre-deceased her husband, who died 1 February 2003 at home in Knock, Belfast, and was cremated in Roselawn, Belfast.