George Reginald Barnes was born on 13 September 1904, in Byfleet, Surrey, the son of Sir Hugh Shakespear Barnes (Foreign Secretary to the Government of India) and his second wife, Edith Helen, sister of Sir Kenneth Barnes. George was educated at the Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth, before coming up to King's College Cambridge in 1922. He received his BA in 1925. He returned to Dartmouth as a Master in 1927, then, after a short spell at Cambridge University Press, joined the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1935. He was the Controller of the BBC's Third Programme from it's inception in 1946, and in 1950 became Director of Television. He was appointed Principal of the University College of North Staffordshire (later Keele University) in 1956. He married (Dorothy) Anne Bond, daughter of Henry Bond, the Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1927. They had a son, Anthony Hugh. George died on 22 September 1960, at the age of 56.
For further biographical information about George Reginald Barnes, the reader is directed to his College obituary in the 1960 King's College Annual Report and to his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.