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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 00:01 GMT
Sir Jimmy's joy at knighthood
Radio 1's first birthday
Jimmy Young (left) at Radio 1's first birthday in 1968
Broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young has dedicated his knighthood to the listeners of his daily BBC Radio 2 programme.

He is due to present his show as usual on New Year's Eve - looking back over the events of 2001.

Since it began in 1973, the Jimmy Young show has become a broadcasting institution, with Prime Ministers regularly appearing as guests.

Famously, Margaret Thatcher joined him at the microphone 14 times.

But as well as becoming an icon of British radio, he was also one of the UK's earliest popular music stars.

Sir Jimmy Young
The JY Prog has become a broadcasting institution
Sir Jimmy - who gives his age as 78, though it is reported to be 80 - said: "I'm deeply honoured and I am indeed most grateful. This is an enormous honour and one that I share with five million listeners."

Born in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, Sir Jimmy's first job was as a baker's assistant before he joined the Royal Air Force, spending seven years as a physical training instructor based in India.

Later, he became a clerk at the Ministry of Education, and managed a hairdressing salon.

Piano debut

He first entered showbusiness in 1949, when radio listeners heard him performing songs at the piano.

After the creation of the charts in 1952, he had five top 10 hits, including two number ones in 1955 - Unchained Melody and The Man from Laramie, becoming the first UK artist to reach number one with two successive singles.

Sir Jimmy Young and William Hague
Sir Jimmy was in action again during the 2001 election
But his star waned as Elvis Presley won the hearts of music lovers, so he moved to radio, hosting Housewives Choice on the BBC, and also working for Radio Luxembourg.

Upon Radio 1's launch in 1967, he joined the new network, transferring to Radio 2 in 1973 for the JY Programme - a mixture of current affairs, chat and music.

The first interview on the new programme was with Erin Pizzey from Chiswick Women's Aid, a refuge for battered wives.

While Radio 2 has changed many times over the years, Sir Jimmy's show has remained one of its flagship programmes.

His show's influence is widely rated by politicians - Tony Blair's press chief, Alastair Campbell, said recently: "Whichever BBC source suggested Jimmy Young is a soft interviewer clearly knows nothing about interviewing, and even less about Jimmy Young."

'Peace and sanity'

John Major reportedly refused to appear on the programme again after Young told him "the voters took Lady Thatcher seriously while they laugh at and make fun of you".

Nicky Campbell
Nicky Campbell claimed he had been offered Sir Jimmy's show
Nowadays, he credits his third wife Alicia - whom he married in 1996 - with bringing him "peace, sanity and understanding".

The BBC was embarrassed in 2000 when Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell claimed he had been approached to take over Radio 2's lunchtime slot.

Sir Jimmy was furious and suggested success had 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 added.

Jeremy Vine and John Inverdale have also been linked with his job - but if Sir Jimmy has anything to do with it, his competitors face a long wait before they get anywhere near his beloved show.

See also:

06 Nov 01 | Entertainment
02 Nov 01 | Newsmakers
21 Dec 98 | Entertainment
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