On the Air

Well- loved pro­grammes from the world of wire­less

Evergreen - - Contents - Ed­mund White­house

Long be­fore he be­came bet­ter­known for his own ra­dio show, Jimmy Young was a pop­u­lar singer who had two big hits in 1955 with “Un­chained Melody” and “The Man from Laramie”. By then, how­ever, he had al­ready recorded more than 80 songs, ini­tially with Poly­gon be­fore mov­ing to Decca and then an­other 60 songs, mostly with Columbia.

Born in 1923 at Cin­der­ford in the For­est of Dean near the River Sev­ern in Glouces­ter­shire, Jimmy had con­nec­tions with rugby union at Bath and with rugby league at Wi­gan. Turned down as too young for the wartime Army he added two months to his age and joined the RAF in­stead, who sent him off to In­dia where he be­came a phys­i­cal train­ing in­struc­tor.

Back home in civvy street he sang and played the piano which led to a con­tract with the small Poly­gon la­bel, which had been re­cently es­tab­lished to pro­mote the young Pe­tula Clark. He did rea­son­ably well at a firm which re­lied on big­ger record com­pa­nies to ac­tu­ally press its songs, and when his record­ing of “Too Young” brought him to wider no­tice it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore he moved to a big­ger la­bel in search of more suc­cess.

The early Fifties saw him per­form­ing in Manch­ester with the BBC North­ern Va­ri­ety Orches­tra, later the NDO ( see Ever­green, Sum­mer 2012) con­ducted by Ray Martin. The an­nouncer was Trevor Hill and the two struck up a friend­ship which sur­vived both of them try­ing to put off the other by pulling faces while live on air.

Now pop­u­lar in pan­tomime, in va­ri­ety the­atres and on ra­dio, he reached his singing peak in the mid- Fifties with both “Un­chained Melody” and “The Man from Laramie” reach­ing the cov­eted num­ber one slot in the pop charts. He also did well with other songs, espe­cially “Eter­nally”, “Chain Gang” and “More” all of which reached the top ten but when the rock and roll era sud­denly burst on the scene he, like most of the other sen­ti­men­tal bal­lad singers, was left out in the cold.

A pe­riod of rel­a­tive in­ac­tiv­ity fol­lowed, but dur­ing the Six­ties he was in­vited to host Housewives’ Choice on BBC ra­dio and his easy re­laxed pat­ter quickly led to him com­per­ing Satur­day Round­about lead­ing to his own daily pro­gramme called Through Till Two, the pre­cur­sor to the Jimmy Young Show which ran for 35 years from 1967 un­til 2002 when it was axed by a BBC which was try­ing to at­tract younger lis­ten­ers to Ra­dio 2. Jimmy — by now Sir Jimmy be­cause he had been knighted for his great ser­vices to broad­cast­ing the same year — was not at all happy and nei­ther was his ded­i­cated band of fol­low­ers who felt some­thing spe­cial had, once again, been pre­ma­turely re­moved from the BBC air­waves by some­one out of touch with the ma­ture and older gen­er­a­tion. They were quite right but just why were they so an­noyed?

The fact is that just like Terry Wo­gan, Jimmy Young had a way with words which ap­pealed to his au­di­ence and made them feel at home. De­spite his ap­par­ent laid- back ap­proach, how­ever, he man­aged to ex­tract de­tailed in­for­ma­tion from the fa­mous, espe­cially politi­cians, that other al­legedly greater in­ter­view­ers never achieved. Roy Hat­ter­s­ley de­scribed it as “Cour­tesy with a cut­ting edge”, while Jimmy him­self said “You catch more flies with honey rather than with vine­gar!” Bal­ance this against the mun­dane and gen­eral rou­tine, and his pro­gramme was hard to match.

Cook­ery recipes were a favourite topic with sev­eral books pub­lished on cuisine. The bouncy theme tune was “Town Talk” played by Ken Wood­man and his Pic­cadilly Brass and, al­though Jimmy was tech­ni­cally a DJ ( disc jockey), rather like Wo­gan his pro­gramme, which he liked to re­fer to as “The JY Show”, was a cut above the rest. Aged 95, Jimmy died in Novem­ber 2016.

In 2002 “Too Young” sud­denly be­came “too old” when, much against his wishes, Jimmy was re­moved from his long- run­ning ra­dio show. At the age of 91, how­ever, he was hon­oured with a Doc­tor­ate of Art by the Univer­sity of Glouces­ter­shire for out­stand­ing...

Awarded an OBE in 1979, Jimmy Young was knighted for ser­vices to broad­cast­ing in 2002.

This 45rpm EP ( ex­tended play) record included Jimmy’s two num­ber one chart top­pers, “The Man from Laramie” and “Un­chained Melody” plus “More”, which made it to num­ber four, and “Round and Round” which reached num­ber 30. Af­ter a spell in the...

Jimmy Young had more suc­cess than any­one when in­ter­view­ing prime min­is­ters and the royal fam­ily, his gen­tle ques­tion­ing con­ceal­ing a steely re­solve at un­cov­er­ing in­for­ma­tion. Mar­garet Thatcher ap­peared 14 times and said Jimmy Young was her favourite...

The Jimmy Young Show

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