Monday, 10 April 2017

Foot tapping ends for Brian Matthew


As a schoolboy in the late 1960s - possibly from the end of 1968 onwards - I was enjoying many of my Saturday nights listening to the syndicated programme, BBC Top Pops, over Radio Malaysia's English service. That was the very first time that I had been exposed to the British radio DJ, Brian Matthew, who played hit after hit of 1960s pop music. Brian Matthew died last Saturday (8 April 2017) after a brief period of grave illness, aged 88.

For a long while, I had forgotten about Matthew and his music programmes but last November when I sort of "discovered" that I could listen online to the British Broadcasting Corporation over the Internet, I have become a very regular follower of the BBC's Radio 2 and sometimes Radio 6. But it was on Radio 2 that I found the greatest satisfaction in radio listening. Matthew was a constant on Radio 2. Though well in his 80s, he kept presenting the two-hour Sounds Of The Sixties on Saturdays until after the 19th of November 2016 when a fall prevented him from returning to the programme.

Then in January this year, the BBC announced Matthew's retirement from hosting that radio programme, citing ill health as the reason. Matthew voiced irritation that he hadn't been consulted on his retirement, and that he was willing to continue. He described it as an “absolute balderdash” and fans agreed that the decision to replace him was premature. More than 5,000 of them signed a petition calling for him to be reinstated.The furore forced the BBC to backtrack somewhat and allowed Matthew back to the studios to record one last episode of Sounds Of The Sixties which aired on 25 February with a promise to bring the old presenter back for some special programmes.

"I must say I’ve enjoyed every minute of my 27 years in this chair. I’m saddened to leave, but I’ll be back on Radio 2 in the near future with something new, so keep your eyes open for further information,” he had said then at the end of his final show, adding: “This is your old mate Brian Matthew saying that’s your lot for this week, see you again soon.”

Unfortunately, that is no longer possible. For some people who were forced into retirement from doing something they had really enjoyed, the enforced retirement - and hence, lifestyle change - occasionally brings about periods of ill health. Some could get really sick due to the inability to readjust, like possibly in Matthew's case because I was really surprised a few days ago when the BBC erroneously reported his premature "death".

On Wednesday, 5 April, the BBC reported that Matthew had died whereas in fact, the broadcaster had been told by his family that he was critically ill. Less than three hours after announcing the veteran DJ’s death on air, the corporation issued an embarrassing clarification. “We were informed by close family and friends that Brian had passed away in the night. They have since been in contact to say that he remains critically ill,” a statement said. But on 8 April 2017, it was finally announced - correctly - that Matthew had died in the morning.



1 comment:

Phang xian wei said...

I love listening to recordings of Radio 2 in the car with my Dad. I listen to Sounds of the 70s and Sunday Love songs, Claudia Winkleman and Micheal Ball. I currently live in Butterworth, but have rented in BM town for a few years. My Dad still buys things from BM market every week. I love reading your blog with it's posts about travel and Hifi, 2 things I love, and really must comment more often! Also love your posts about Chinese calendar and traditions. Cheers!