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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 13:12 GMT
MPs campaign to keep Jimmy Young
Tony Blair and Jimmy Young
The Prime Minister has appeared on the JY programme
A group of MPs have launched a campaign to keep veteran BBC broadcaster Jimmy Young on air amidst rumours of his departure.

Led by Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey, the MPs say the corporation would be guilty of "ageism" if they let the 78-year-old presenter go.

Radio 1 launch
Young was one of the launch DJs for Radio 1 in 1967
Rumours spread that the BBC was about to end Young's contract when outgoing chairman Sir Christopher Bland joked in his leaving speech that he had never worked out how to tell him it was time to go.

Young has presented a daily programme on BBC Radio 2 since 1973 and mixes music with political interviews on his show.

"If the BBC fails to renew his contract, it would be an act of ageism which would do a great disservice to the listeners, " said Mr Harvey.

The MPs have tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the BBC to allow the broadcaster to continue presenting his show.

"Mr Young remains a model political interviewer. He maintains his standards of courtesy, while continuing to ask consistently well-informed and penetrating questions," said Mr Harvey.

'Desperate'

Young's first broadcast for the BBC was Songs at Piano in 1949, but he moved into speech programming in the 1950s.

Young says he has no plans to leave his job, though he is "flattered" that his success has made people "desperate" to get his job.

"Unless of course, in the ageist pursuit of youth, someone decides to ignore my record-breaking ratings and fire me," he said.

Baroness Thatcher famously pronounced Young her favourite interviewer and has appeared on his programme 14 times.

Nick Harvey
Harvey: Liberal Democrat spokesman on culture and media
But his large audiences have made his shows a favourite for all top politicians, particularly at election time.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are aware of the motion. Jimmy Young is signed up to his show on Radio 2 to the end of March 2002, but we don't comment on individual presenters' contracts."

Gloucestershire-born Young spent seven years in the RAF before turning to broadcasting and was also a successful singer.

He had three number one records - Too Young, Unchained Melody and The Man From Laramie.

He joined Radio 1 in October 1967 and moved to Radio 2 in 1973.

See also:

18 Apr 01 | Music
Sinatra is voice of the century
21 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Radio 2 stays Young at heart
07 May 99 | UK
DJ Walker on drugs charge
21 Nov 99 | UK
Sir Cliff defies critics
23 Jun 98 | Entertainment
Jazz musician Benny Green dies
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