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EDITIONS
 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 14:17 GMT
Sir Jimmy's reluctant farewell
Sir Jimmy Young
Sir Jimmy gestures at his producer on his last show
Sir Jimmy Young turned on his BBC bosses in his last lunchtime programme on Radio 2, telling listeners "it wasn't my idea" to leave the show.

Young, who is 81, has left his show on Friday after half a century in broadcasting.

But his anger at leaving Radio 2, his home since 1973, showed during his final programme, as listeners sent messages to the studio saying how sorry they were to see him go .

Jimmy Young on his last day
It's the last programme - it's not what I want but that's what's been decreed so that's what we have to do

Sir Jimmy Young
"Just so that we're all singing from the same hymn book, it was not my idea to go - I didn't want to leave you at all and I know from your messages that you don't want me to go either," he said.

"Nothing to do with me guv."

According to the BBC's media correspondent Nick Higham, Sir Jimmy feels humiliated at the way he has been sidelined by executives at Radio 2, who are looking for a younger image for the station.

A Radio 2 spokeswoman said: "We were disappointed that Sir Jimmy Young had a change of heart about presenting a new show for the BBC.

"We thank him for his great contribution to BBC radio over many years and send him warm wishes for every happiness and success in the future."

The veteran broadcaster still manages to achieve ratings of around five million listeners.

He had five months off recently after a hip operation, and only returned to his show two weeks ago.

'Life after the BBC'

Sir Jimmy Young and Margaret Thatcher
Sir Jimmy interviewed Margaret Thatcher 14 times
As his show finished, he told listeners he was writing his autobiography, and had received offers to appear in a one-man stage show.

"There is life after the BBC, of course," he said, before playing his last track - his own 1955 version of Unchained Melody.

He ended the show by saying: "The song's fading away and indeed so am I.

"It's the last programme - it's not what I want but that's what's been decreed so that's what we have to do.

"I'm looking forward to hearing you and seeing you at the theatre. Thank you very, very, much for the last 30 years - I've loved it all.

"God bless, take care, and for the very last time I fear, bye for now."

Sir Jimmy started working at the corporation in 1949, and was one of the first broadcasters on Radio 1 in 1969, moving to Radio 2 four years later.

'Byebye for now'

Sir Jimmy's retirement had been mooted for some time, but the DJ had always extended his contract.

He had agreed to leave his 12 to 2pm show to do a weekend programme at the beginning of the year, but then changed his mind and decided to retire from the BBC altogether.

Jimmy Young
Jimmy Young in 1977: The presenter has been a Radio 2 stalwart
On Friday, fellow Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan said on his breakfast show: "Dear Jimmy Young is leaving us - or so he says. We don't have to believe it if we don't want to."

He then read out a poem from a reader: "Goodbye to Sir Jimmy Young/ He's leaving us today/ Broadcasting to us the nation/ On Radio 2 each day/ We're really going to miss him/ But he'll be back somehow/ So all we say is BFN - byebye for now."

When he announced his departure, Sir Jimmy said: "I know that my many listeners will understand.

"This decision has nothing to do with my recent stay in hospital. My hip is fixed and I am not retiring, far from it - I will be pursuing a number of other interests."

Sir Jimmy was replaced by Brian Hayes during his five month break, and the show will feature a new host, former Newsnight stand-in Jeremy Vine, from the new year.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Jimmy Young's final farewell
"I don't want to leave you but that's what's been decreed"
  Young tops the charts in 1955
Listen to Jimmy Young sing Unchained Melody
  Nick Higham reports
on Jimmy Young's career
Sir Jimmy Young leaves the BBC


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