Fans have reacted with sadness and anger as the veteran broadcaster Brian Matthew signed off from BBC Radio 2’s Sounds of the 60s for the last time.
The 88-year-old had presented the popular show for almost three decades, but the BBC dropped him in January. As he said goodbye to listeners on Saturday morning, he admitted he was “saddened to leave” the long-running programme.
After training as an actor at Rada, Matthew took a presenting role with BBC radio in 1954, and has been with the corporation ever since.
As well as drawing more than three million listeners to the station for his weekly broadcast, he won a coveted Sony Gold award in 2008 “in recognition of a truly outstanding contribution to UK radio”.
In October last year he became the oldest regular broadcaster on BBC radio.
Matthew started presenting the series in 1990 and won legions of fans for his in-depth knowledge of the music of the decade.
After playing the final song on the show, Last Night Was Made for Love, he told listeners: “That 1962 top five hit by Billy Fury brings me to the end of my reign as presenter of Sounds of the Sixties and 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.
“This is your old mate Brian Matthew saying that’s your lot for this week, see you again soon.”
When the BBC announced the decision to axe the presenter in January, citing a lengthy illness last year, fans set up a petition calling for the corporation to reverse its decision.
Many were outraged at what they saw as ageism. Campaigners wrote: “This is appalling treatment of a man who, at the age of 88, has devoted his long career to this job, and it shows a degenerate attitude on the part of managers for the rights and interests of radio employees and listeners. The decision must be immediately reversed, and Brian should continue with his presenting job until he decides to retire.”
So far, 10,683 people have signed the petition.
As the show’s final songs played out, fans vented their fury at the decision on Twitter.
So,farewell,then,Brian Matthew, from Sounds of the Sixties. 27 years, and chucked out unceremoniously and against his will. Shocking.#SOTS
— William Hill (@sharpeangle) February 25, 2017
— Nick (@gourmetdaddy) February 25, 2017
Others paid tribute to the presenter’s decades of service to his listeners.
Thank you Brian for the past 27 years of Sounds of the Sixties it's been fantastic https://t.co/tBdlgXzxRz
— Mr Raymond Greenwood (@greenwood_mr) February 25, 2017
Tony Blackburn, 71, will take over the show from next Saturday.
The BBC has said Matthew will present a number of special and one-off shows in the coming months.