Sir Jimmy Young has passed away aged 95. The veteran broadcaster died “peacefully at home” on Monday afternoon with his wife Alicia by his side, a family spokesman confirmed.
Young started out as a singer, releasing a number of tracks during the 1950s including a 1951 cover of Nat King Cole’s Too Young, before embarking on a career as a presenter on the airwaves.
When Radio 1 launched in 1967, Young was one of its first DJs before moving across to Radio 2 in 1973 where he presented his afternoon show for more than 30 years before a revamp saw him replaced in 2002.
The BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall, was among those paying tribute to the late broadcaster: “Sir Jimmy Young defined Radio 2 and was a true broadcasting pioneer. He will be dearly missed by his many fans.”
Young’s afternoon slot on Radio 2 was credited with popularising current affairs with the Queen said to be among the millions who tuned in to hear him interview every prime minister from 1964 to 2002. Margaret Thatcher was a guest 14 times and Young was recognised for bringing out the softer side of Britain’s politicians.
Upon his departure from the station – a move Young made clear was not his decision – Jeremy Vine took over Radio 2’s lunchtime slot and paid tribute to his predecessor yesterday, calling him “one of the most important figures in Radio 2’s history.
“He understood that listeners were central to the lunchtimes show, he brought them on board, and he ensured that politicians were held accountable in a way that was firm but always polite. His achievement was his staying power – to still be doing ten hours of live radio a week at the age of 82 was nothing short of remarkable.”
Various figures from the industry – including Ken Bruce and Tony Blackburn – have also been tweeting their tributes to Young:
Radio 2 will air an updated version of a 90th birthday tribute to Young, originally broadcast in 2011, on Wednesday night at 11pm. There will also be memories of Young featured on the Jeremy Vine show from midday on Tuesday.