Monday, 30 November -0001

Radio Review: 18 November

Ken Bruce reminds us of Jimmy Young’s serious side

Written by Louis Barfe
The Today programme was briefly made significantly more bearable last week by the presence of Ken Bruce, even though he was there for a sad reason. Bruce was speaking Louis-Barfe-colour-176to Nick Robinson about his friend and former colleague Sir Jimmy Young, recalling the ructions JY caused by introducing political interviews to his radio show.

Neither the current affairs department nor light entertainment were happy with it, but Young’s belief that he could put the questions the listeners wanted to ask proved well- founded. He called politicians by their first names and Bruce noted that he had the time to lull people into a genuine sense of security.

Young wanted to generate light, not heat, and to get answers rather than score points. Even when he pushed, nobody stormed out. Bruce recalled Young giving John major a ‘monstering’, but getting away with it because he always did it with charm. In his quiet way, JY was a genuine radio pioneer.

Bruce didn’t have time to mention that when BBC bosses demoted him from the breakfast show in the 1980s, Young marched into his studio and provided robust words of support I couldn’t possibly repeat here.

Away from the serious business of politics, whether national or BBC shenanigans, many fondly recall the handovers between Young and Terry Wogan, exchanges so popular that they inspired a Radio Times cover.

Wogan gave Jim dog’s abuse, referring to him as ‘aged and infirm’ when he was still in his 50s, and suggesting that Young was wheeled into the studio each morning on a commode. Of course, JY parried Wogan’s digs with good-natured sarcasm, the pair of them frequently collapsing into laughter. Both men were sharp yet warm, and they helped set the tone for radio 2.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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