Ex-Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce discusses his three marriages: ‘I was a serial bridegroom’
Watch: Ken Bruce discusses having six children by three different wives
When Ken Bruce quit BBC Radio 2 recently it made national headlines.
After over 30 years hosting his popular weekday programme, the veteran DJ is moving to a new radio station.
“The danger of staying at Radio 2,” he told Kate Thornton on podcast White Wine Question Time, “was that I would just go into a kind of complacency, and say, ‘Right, it’s great… you know, I’ve got this amount of audience, I’m doing this, everything's working beautifully.’”
Bruce’s fear, he revealed, was that “I would just spend the next few years gradually, you know, declining into something that was becoming too easy – and so I like to give myself a little kick, every so often.”
That “little kick” was to move to Greatest Hits Radio, taking his famous daily PopMaster quiz with him.
“Another part of the challenge is that, can I go to this station and be successful at it and bring some listeners, perhaps?” He continued. “I like to set myself a little challenge every so often.”
Read more: Ken Bruce sets record straight on BBC exit
Bruce revealed to Thornton that he is not adverse to making difficult life decisions – in particular, when it comes to his personal life.
“It looks bad on paper, married three times… [with] six children by those three different women, but it’s not as exciting as it sounds,” he joked. “It sounds as if I've had the life of a playboy – and, in fact, as somebody once said, I was a serial bridegroom!”
Bruce clarified that his first two marriages were “proper relationships”, that each lasted nine years, and included children.
Today, he emphasised, relations between all involved are “all fine” and that “everybody’s happy”.
Read more: Ken Bruce leaves Radio 2: DJ signs off show for the final time
Yet the experience, at the time, he admitted to Thornton, left him conflicted about the prospect of marrying again.
“I more or less said that’s it… two failed marriages, I'm not going to get another one,” he recalled. “I'm fine on my own.”
Instead, the radio star entered, he confessed, “slightly midlife crisis” in his mid-40s, which included joining a gym and buying a “convertible”.
It was not a phase, however, that lasted long.
“I only went once to the gym, or twice, I think, because I didn’t like it,” he joked.
The convertible, too, turned out to be “unsuitable for family life”.
When Bruce met Kerith Coldham, a broadcast assistant in 1998 therefore, he told Thornton, it was “a lovely moment because it was totally unexpected.”
The pair met working at the Eurovision Song Contest in Birmingham, at the International Convention Centre (ICC) building, which is located next to a canal.
“We were backstage and there was a clutch of ducklings that had been found just wandering about in the ICC, because they’d come straight off the canal and they’d lost their mummy,” Bruce recalled. “And Kerith is an absolute fan of all animal life… so she said, ‘Come on, come on… look at this!’”
The pair, he said, bonded over “ducks and Eurovision”.
“We got on so well.”
Watch the full episode to hear legendary broadcaster Ken Bruce talk about the adrenalin rush of presenting live radio, taking on new challenges in his 70s and exactly why he quit Radio 2
Today, he and Kerith have been married 23 years, and have three children, the youngest of whom is 15 years old.
“I’ve been on the school run since 1982, I think,” Bruce joked to Thornton. “My first school drop-off was when I was working at BBC Scotland – and I'm still doing them now after all these years at Radio 2.”
Today, Bruce remains on “gardening leave” after his departure from BBC Radio 2.
His new show at Greatest Hits Radio show starts at 10.30am on 3 April.
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The audience response to his departure from the BBC, the DJ admitted, had been moving.
“It was like I was reading my obituaries without having to go to the trouble of dying,” he said. “A lot of it was very, very positive and nice, and so that's sweet because you don't always know if you're having an effect or an influence, and just to have it confirmed.”
“A lot of people go to their graves, never knowing how much people liked them,” he continued. “So, I've been very lucky in that I’ve had a nice little idea.”