RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Radio 2 doesn't want old gits like you and me

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Over 50? Sorry pop pickers, Radio 2 doesn’t want old gits like you and me

Elvis has left the building? The last raven has left the Tower? How else to describe the shocking news that Ken Bruce is on his way out of BBC Radio 2?

It’s another one of those ‘Day they knocked down the Palais’ moments, the wonderful Ray Davies lament from The Kinks’ 1982 single Come Dancing, to which I retreat every time some mindless, ‘modernising’ vandal takes a bulldozer to what remains of Littlejohn’s Lost World.

I had no idea on Monday afternoon, when I was writing yesterday’s column about Radio 2 turning its back on millions of loyal listeners, that the following day I’d discover Ken, Britain’s most popular DJ, was leaving, despite record audience figures.

By the time I’d switched on my computer yesterday morning, the sad news was out and my inbox was filling up with outraged emails from Daily Mail readers vowing never to listen to Radio 2 again.

Elvis has left the building? The last raven has left the Tower? How else to describe the shocking news that Ken Bruce is on his way out of BBC Radio 2?

I had no idea on Monday afternoon, when I was writing yesterday’s column about Radio 2 turning its back on millions of loyal listeners, that the following day I’d discover Ken, Britain’s most popular DJ, was leaving, despite record audience figures

Not that it came as any great surprise, to be honest. After I wrote about the shafting of Steve Wright In The Afternoon last summer, I was told by a BBC insider that Ken had been informed this would be his last contract, too.

And so the clear-out of the old guard is almost complete. Jeremy Vine must be quaking in his cycling shorts today.

No doubt the station’s newish controller Helen Thomas has already lined up a shrieking 30-something dolly bird or metrosexual Radio 1 type to take over his lunchtime Daily Mail-style magazine programme.

Out will go Vine’s beloved Elvis Costello. In will come some soppy Spice Girls or S Club 7 soundtrack, as Thomas chases what she describes as ‘mood mums’ — women in their 40s.

We’ll be left filing our nails as they’re dragging the lake . . .

For the past few months, Thomas has been turning the screw on Ken Bruce, filling his familiar, grown-up playlist with puerile teenybopper dross.

It’s only Popmaster, his fabulous quiz, which has stopped most of us crawling from the wreckage until now. The good news is that Ken will be taking Popmaster with him to his new home on the digital station Greatest Hits Radio, where he will join other BBC exiles including Simon Mayo, my old Radio 5 Live colleague.

By the time I’d switched on my computer yesterday morning, the sad news was out and my inbox was filling up with outraged emails from Daily Mail readers vowing never to listen to Radio 2 again

The bad news is, er . . . just a never-ending cycle of bad news, if you’re a licence payer and happen to be over 50. Sorry, pop pickers, but you’re (we’re) simply not wanted on voyage any more.

Look, when Wrighty got the old heave-ho, I acknowledged here that a new controller — like a new newspaper editor or football manager — is entitled to shuffle the deckchairs. Even if they leave the occupants looking like the Dance Band On The Titanic. (Copyright: WOLD’s Harry Chapin, someone else you never hear on Radio 2 these days. Remember how we listened to the radio, and I said ‘that’s the place to be’..?)

So if Helen Thomas wants to turn Radio 2 into an all-day hen party, that’s her prerogative.

The real scandal is that the BBC, which is publicly funded by a compulsory poll tax, has given baby boomers like us nowhere else to go.

There’s no Radio 2-and-a-half, playing the soundtrack of our lives any more — from The Beatles and Stones to Sinatra and Springsteen.

The North London Luvvies who run the Beeb these days have no time for those of us no longer in the first flush of youth — the very licence-payers Radio 2 and BBC TV is supposed to serve.

They’re obsessed with yoof, spiky-haired striplings who would not dream of buying a TV licence and get everything through pod wotsits and Tik-thingys.

Not that it came as any great surprise, to be honest. After I wrote about the shafting of Steve Wright In The Afternoon last summer, I was told by a BBC insider that Ken had been informed this would be his last contract, too

Thus, BBC 4 — what dumbed-down BBC 2 ought to be — is starved of funds and criminally neglected, while BBC 3 — packed with mind-numbing gibberish and intelligence-insulting juvenile garbage — is brought back to life.

Radio 2 was supposed to be a safe haven for old gits like me. But, one by one, star presenters such as Bill Kenwright, Don Black, Steve Wright, Vanessa Feltz et al, have been taken out of Wogan House, put up against a wall and shot.

Now Ken is the latest casualty. What would Terry Wogan have made of it? The TOGs have been cast into the outer darkness.

The Beeb no longer gives a monkey’s about so-called ‘public service’ broadcasting.

Look, none of this gives me any pleasure. I’ve worked for the BBC over the years and was privileged to sit in for the great Jimmy Young in the old days — following on from Ken Bruce and handing over to Steve Wright on his very first day in the afternoon slot.

Still, chin up. Ken’s off to Greatest Hits Radio and there’s a whole wide world of wireless out there on the internet these days.

Once upon a time, Jim Moir, the brilliant former Radio 2 controller, told me that the reason he’d asked me to deputise for JY was because my readers were his listeners. Yesterday, one of the founders of the rapidly booming digital station Boom Radio, emailed me to say the same. Pity the bosses at Radio 2 have forgotten that.

As I wrote in yesterday’s column, I’m doing a turn for Boom next month. You won’t be surprised to learn that one of the songs I’ll be playing is Come Dancing, by The Kinks. I should dedicate it to my old mate Ken Bruce.

The day they knocked down the Palais . . .

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