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EDITIONS
 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 16:09 GMT
Sir Jimmy: Professional to the last
Sir Jimmy Young
Sir Jimmy's last show was up to his usual standard

The reassuring tones of Sir Jimmy Young may have left BBC Radio 2's airwaves for good, but despite his reluctance to go he held it together like a true professional.

His lunchtime show was still a tightly-packed mix of topical chat, interviews and easy listening music, just as his army of listeners would expect.

The veteran broadcaster opened with the Beatles' song Hello Goodbye, adding "although in this case goodbye is the operative word".

Sir Jimmy decided from the outset to make it clear he had no desire to end his 30 years of prime-time broadcasting, telling his listeners: "I didn't want to leave you at all."

Ann Widdecombe
Widdecombe: Sorry to see Sir Jimmy go
Despite his obvious upset, he trooped on with his first topic - a discussion of Lord Woolf's ruling that non-violent domestic burglars should no longer be sent to prison for a first offence.

Tory MP Anne Widdecombe was the first interview of the day, but instead of getting stuck into such a hot topic, as one might expect, she took a rather different tack.

"I can't bear the thought that this is the last programme," she said, but before she could voice any more woes, Sir Jimmy replied: "Well I can hardly bear it either."

Without further ado, they had a quick exchange about the ruling, with Ms Widdecombe concluding that "keeping offenders out of prison merely shifted the problem somewhere else".

Easy listening

But she could not resist adding: "Thankyou for all you've done in 30 years - it's been fantastic," as she said goodbye.

Sir Jimmy then proceeded to fire out a selection of his listeners' views which ranged right across the political spectrum, before easing the show into the next record.

This tried-and-tested formula obviously works - the show was incredibly easy to listen to, not least because it did not require huge concentration but still remained interesting.

Despite playing lot of middle-of-the-road pop, including Ronan Keating, Lulu, Michael Jackson and Robbie Williams, Sir Jimmy's prime focus was definitely his "dear listener", whom he frequently addressed.

Jeremy Vine
Jeremy Vine steps into Sir Jimmy's shoes
He fastidiously read out the mix of listeners' views which arrived by phone and e-mail, and was keen to cram in as many as possible.

Sir Jimmy ended the two-hour show it by saying there was definitely "life after the BBC".

After plugging his forthcoming theatre show, A night with Jimmy Young, and his book due out in September, he revealed he would also be writing a newspaper column, and said: "You won't be able to hear me but you'll be able to read me".

'Fading'

Under his producer's orders he played his 1955 number one hit Unchained Melody, which allowed listeners to hear him in all his crooning glory.

"The song's fading away and indeed so am I," he said, but could not resist saying once again that leaving the show was "not what I want".

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

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

It seems that Jeremy Vine, Sir Jimmy's successor, will have a tough act to follow.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  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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