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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 11:32 GMT
Fluff's farewell to Pop Pickers
Alan Freeman
Alan Freeman is having to give up his trademark show
Veteran BBC DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman is to bow out as the voice of Pick of the Pops as he fights crippling arthritis.

The 72-year-old, who has presented his trademark golden oldies show on BBC Radio 2 since 1997, has been suffering from arthritis for nine years.

His condition has steadily worsened and he is now living in a nursing home and walking with a Zimmer frame.

However, the legendary broadcaster - known for his catchphrases "Greetings pop-pickers" and "Not 'arf" - vowed not to let the arthritis get the better of him. He said he would continue to present Radio 2's Their Greatest Bits classical music show, made by Unique Productions.

Alan Freeman
Freeman's quirky catchphrases won fans and inspired many imitators
He said: "Even with this arthritis I still won't be beaten. I've got a chauffeur and I get driven into the studios.

"I use the Zimmer frame to get out of the car and when I get to the BBC or Unique I use it to get to the lift and then I do the nonsense and the carrying on and the 'not 'arfs'."

A Radio 2 spokeswoman said the station was "delighted" that Freeman had signed a two-year contract to continue presenting Their Greatest Bits on Tuesday afternoons.

She continued: "However, he will hand over the reins of Saturday's Pick of the Pops to a new presenter to be announced in the next couple of weeks."

Long career

Australian-born Freeman came to Britain from Melbourne in 1957 for a holiday. He stayed, became a radio legend and two years ago he was awarded an MBE.

He has had to put his west London flat on the market as it is on two levels and difficult for him to manage.

He is now living in Brinsworth House in Twickenham, south-west London - a nursing home for members of the theatrical profession.

What I think is that it's far better to go to work and have the pain than to sit at home, not work and still have the pain

Alan Freeman
Despite having to move into residential care, the presenter was upbeat about his new home after life as a bachelor.

"I've always lived alone and it's rather nice to have a bit of company," he said.

"I've got my own little room and there are lots of people here. There's a woman of 88 who has the most delicious sense of humour. We all send each other up."

Freeman joined the BBC's Light Programme in 1961 with a show called Records Around Five. On 23 September of the same year he launched his famous show Pick of the Pops as part of a Saturday evening show called Trad Tavern.

In 1962 the show assumed its regular Sunday teatime slot where Freeman hosted it until 1972. He went on to champion hard rock and heavy metal music, presenting his Saturday Rock Show on Radio 1 until 1978.

He then moved to Capital Radio before returning to the BBC to host a Saturday night rock show on Radio 1 in 1989 and Pick of the Pops on Sundays.

Another move in 1993 took the DJ and his show to Capital Gold until 1996 and then a stint hosting a rock show on Virgin Radio preceded his return to the BBC.

The presenter - who in 1988 won the Radio Academy's Outstanding Contribution to UK Music Radio award - said he had no plans to retire completely just yet.

He added: "What I think is that it's far better to go to work and have the pain than to sit at home, not work and still have the pain."

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