Entertainment & Arts

Sir Jimmy Young: Veteran broadcaster dies aged 95

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Media captionLook back at the life of broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young

Veteran broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young has died at the age of 95.

The long-serving DJ, who spent almost three decades at BBC Radio 2, died "peacefully at home" on Monday afternoon with his wife Alicia by his side, a family spokesman said.

Sir Jimmy began his BBC career on the Light programme, which was rebranded Radio 2 in 1967, the same year Radio 1 launched.

He went on to fill Radio 2's early afternoon slot until 2002.

Before becoming a presenter on the airwaves, Sir Jimmy had a number of hit pop singles during the 1950s, including a cover of the Nat King Cole song Too Young.

His version of Unchained Melody topped the UK charts in 1953 for three weeks.

Tributes have been pouring in for the presenter, who was born Leslie Ronald Young in 1921.

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Media captionRadio 2 presenter Ken Bruce pays tribute to Sir Jimmy Young.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: "Sir Jimmy Young defined Radio 2 and was a true broadcasting pioneer. He will be dearly missed by his many fans."

Sir Jimmy's former Radio 2 colleague Ken Bruce tweeted: "So very sad to hear about the death of my old friend Sir Jimmy Young. One of the most able broadcasters I ever worked with."

In an interview on the Today programme, Bruce said Sir Jimmy's willingness to bring politics into a light entertainment radio show "ruffled quite a few feathers".

He said: "He was riding a very difficult path and he never fell off."

Time Team presenter and Blackadder actor Sir Tony Robinson said: "So sad. Such memories from my childhood and teens. I loved his versions of The Man From Laramie and Unchained Melody."

Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray, wrote: "BFN Jimmy. We loved you. RIP #JimmyYoung."

And television presenter Piers Morgan said: "Another giant of British broadcasting dies just months after his great friend & colleague Terry Wogan."

Image caption Margaret Thatcher on the Jimmy Young Show in 1975 - before she became prime minister

The Queen was said to be among the millions who tuned in to his Radio 2 show.

Sir Jimmy interviewed every prime minister from Alec Douglas-Home to Tony Blair - with Baroness Thatcher a guest 14 times.

Bob Shennan, director of BBC Radio, said: "He was a truly unique broadcaster who pioneered a form of presenting that generations have followed.

"He made current affairs relevant to millions of listeners and helped shape Radio 2 into the station it is today."

Broadcasting 'landmark'

Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph radio critic, told the BBC: "He had an easy affability in interviews. He had a shrewd sense of when to interrupt and when to shut up.

"He wasn't a soft touch, but he brought out the softer side in many a politician, and when he went off, he was often covered by politicians. You wouldn't call Ken Livingstone a soft touch, but he was one of his understudies.

"Whoever's plan it was having him made an excellent choice, because he is definitely a landmark in British broadcasting history."

Sir Jimmy's working life began as a clerk for a minister of education and a manager of a hair salon before he achieved his dream of getting a career in entertainment.

The broadcaster left the BBC after more than 30 years behind the desk after he was replaced in a revamp at the station, as part of new controller Jim Moir's efforts to attract younger viewers.

Sir Jimmy made no secret of the fact it was not his choice to leave, and a motion was even put down in Parliament to keep him on.

But he made up with the BBC in later years, hosting a one-off special for his 90th birthday.

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Image caption Sir Jimmy was knighted in 2002 and celebrated at the BBC

Jeremy Vine, who took over the veteran's Radio 2 slot, tweeted: "Sad to see this news. RIP Jimmy."

The Light Programme, where Sir Jimmy began his career, was broadcast simultaneously on Radio 2 and Radio 1 from 1967, making him one of Radio 1's original DJs.

Fellow broadcaster Tony Blackburn said in a statement: "Jimmy was a legendary broadcaster, there at the very start of Radio 1 and then, for so long, the voice of Radio 2.

"2016 has been a terrible year for losing iconic figures from our youth. Today we lost another."

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