Tony Blackburn named new host of Radio 2’s Sounds of the Sixties

The Radio 2 schedule gets a revamp with a new slot for Dermot O’Leary and fresh gigs for Anneka Rice and pop star Ana Matronic

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Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn is taking over as the host of Radio 2 favourite Sounds of the Sixties, RadioTimes.com can reveal.

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Blackburn will replace Brian Matthew who stepped down from presenting the weekly show last March show due to ill health.

The series will move from its current slot of 8am to 10am on Saturdays to a new time of 6am to 8am, as anticipated by RadioTimes.com in September.

The job represents a boost for Blackburn who was taken off air in February 2016 following criticism of him in Dame Janet Smith’s report into the Jimmy Savile scandal. However in October last year he was given an hour-long show on BBC Radio 2 on Fridays at 7pm, Tony Blackburn’s Golden Hour, which he will continue to present.

Blackburn said today: “It is an absolute honour to be following in Brian’s footsteps; he is a broadcasting legend and Sounds of the 60s is an iconic show. I started my radio career in ’64 and have amazing memories of playing so many of the great hits first time around. To take over this show, 50 years after joining the BBC, is a real privilege and I can’t wait to get started.”

Matthew, who is 88 and has hosted the programme since April 1990, presented his last edition on 19th November, but will return on Saturday 25th February for his final show. Radio 2 will also launch an occasional series of programmes scheduled around Bank Holidays, and beginning on Easter Sunday called The Brian Matthew Years, reflecting on his life and times in the world of music. 

Comment: Sounds of the Sixties will go on – but it may never be the same again

The move comes as part of a raft of changes to the Radio 2 schedule, which RadioTimes.com can exclusively reveal will launch on Saturday 4th March and Saturday 1st April.

Dermot O’Leary will move from Saturday afternoons (3pm to 6pm) to an earlier slot of 8am to 10am from Saturday 4th March, presenting a brand new music entertainment breakfast show.

And at 9:15am each Saturday morning, O’Leary will Pause for Thought, featuring different contributors from a variety of faiths. 

O’Leary said: “It’s a huge honour to be asked to host the Saturday Breakfast show on Radio 2. I’m really looking forward to waking our loyal listeners up, after Tony and the iconic Sounds of the 60s, on which Brian Matthew did such an incredible job for so many years. We’ll be having sessions from some brilliant artists, plus special guests, listeners on air and hand-picked music. It’s a real privilege to be on Radio 2. I can’t wait.”

In other changes, Zoe Ball will host a live Saturday afternoon slot from 3pm to 6pm and Anneka Rice will present a new flagship show The Happening with Anneka Rice.

The new programme will see Rice, who has presented the 6am to 8am show each Saturday morning since February 2012, interviewing “the movers and shakers from the world of arts and entertainment”, as well as showcasing the best of Radio 2 over the previous seven days.

Starting on April 2nd, between midnight and 2am into Sunday morning, Scissor Sister Ana Matronic will showcase the best disco music around in Ana Matronic’s Disco Devotion.

In other changes on the network, presenter Bob Harris has decided to finish broadcasting his weekly show Bob Harris Sunday to allow him to “concentrate on other projects” according to R2. But his weekly show Bob Harris Country (Thursday, 7pm-8pm) – which showcases the very best in Country music to the Radio 2 audience – will continue.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, said: “The new Saturday Radio 2 schedule will give listeners a day of music entertainment from some of this country’s most popular and best loved presenters. Brian Matthew is irreplaceable at 8am on a Saturday morning with Sounds of the 60s so we’re moving to a new time of 6am, and I’m confident that Tony will delight listeners with his memories and favourite tunes from the decade. Dermot’s brand new Breakfast show from 8am will wake up the nation in style, and I’m delighted to welcome Zoe and Ana to regular shows on the network. I’d like to thank Anneka for hosting the Breakfast show and we’re looking forward to her new show The Happening with Anneka Rice.” 

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Comment: Sounds of the Sixties will go on – but it may never be the same again