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Ken Bruce leaves Radio 2: DJ signs off show for the final time

Ken Bruce is leaving BBC Radio 2. (BBC)
Ken Bruce is leaving BBC Radio 2. (BBC)

Ken Bruce has signed off from his BBC Radio 2 mid-morning show for the final time after 30 years hosting it.

The broadcaster paid tribute to his listeners and colleagues in his closing speech, telling them "I've had such fun, such a laugh".

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He said: "A lot of people would say write down a big speech and read it out - it's not the kind of thing I do.

"I really want to say thank you to anyone who has contributed in any small way to this programme, particularly the listeners, I really couldn't do it without the listeners who contribute and complete the dialogue, we talk with each other on a daily basis and I hope maybe sometime in the future we may be able to keep doing that.

"Thank you particularly to the members of the Ken Bruce Preservation Society who sent in a lovely bottle of a certain Irish cream liqueur which I did think about drinking after song nine today, but I thought I'd better just wait until now. That's very kind of you.

"Thanks to all who've set any kind of message of congratulations or good riddance."

Bruce thanked his producers and added: "To the BBC, I've been here a long time and apart from the occasional vagary, it is still the finest broadcasting organisation in the world."

He then finished the show by playing a medley of Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End that closes the Abbey Road album by The Beatles.

Earlier in the morning Bruce, 72, told BBC Radio 4 that the BBC prompting his early exit from Radio 2 after 40 years with them "seems a shame".

His last mid-morning programme for the station was today, 17 days before his contract officially comes to an end.

He told the Today programme: "It’s entirely within the BBC’s right to ask me to step away a little early.

"But for the sake of 17 days, which was all that was remaining (on my contract), it seems a shame."

Ken Bruce's departure has been called the end of an era for BBC Radio 2. (BBC)
Ken Bruce's departure has been called the end of an era for BBC Radio 2. (BBC)

He opened his final show on Friday morning by telling listeners: "Lots of lovely music on this programme. Don’t go listening for any secret messages or hidden messages behind any of them, they’re just good songs."

The presenter added that it would be "a normal programme, very, very normal".

In the final instalment of long-running music quiz PopMaster, one of Bruce's contestants told him that he was a "warm and funny friend to the nation" who provided a "soundtrack to our lives".

Ken Bruce with Michael Buble at BBC Radio 2. (BBC)
Ken Bruce with Michael Buble at BBC Radio 2. (BBC)

Bruce has presented the BBC Radio 2 mid-morning show for 30 years but first joined the corporation in 1977 as a BBC Radio Scotland presenter.

His first regular slot on Radio 2 was the Saturday Late Show in 1984, and the following year he fronted the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, taking over from Sir Terry Wogan. He moved to mid-mornings in 1986 and after a brief stint on late nights and early mornings, returned to mid-mornings in January 1992.

Bruce also told Radio 4: "Gardening leave is a known concept in broadcasting, and in many other areas. But you just adapt your timetable, and instead of three weeks, it’s one week, and that’s fine.

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"My belief is that, when I’m given a contract, I work to it and complete it. Over the last 46 years, I haven’t had very much time off, I’ve attempted to turn up whenever I’m required to turn up.

"So my natural feeling as a broadcaster is if I’ve got 17 days to do, I want to do them."

Ken Bruce with Craig David for The Piano Room. (BBC)
Ken Bruce with Craig David for The Piano Room. (BBC)

He earlier told the Daily Mail that he "wasn’t given any real reason that I understood" by the BBC for the decision to move his final programme.

In response to his comments, a Radio 2 spokesperson previously said: "Ken decided to leave Radio 2 and it’s always been known he’s leaving in March.

"Returning to Wogan House for a week after a month of broadcasting the Piano Room sessions at Maida Vale provided a natural break.

"We wish Ken all the best for the future."

Ken Bruce meets Sigrid. (BBC)
Ken Bruce meets Sigrid. (BBC)

Bruce will start a new job at Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio in April, presenting a new mid-morning show from 10am to 1pm.

Last week, the BBC announced that TV presenter Vernon Kay will take over Bruce’s Radio 2 slot on a date yet to be announced, while Gary Davies, host of the station’s Sounds Of The 80s, will present the mid-morning show from 6 March until Kay takes over.

Zoe Ball paid tribute to Bruce in her Radio 2 breakfast show on Friday, reading out messages of support from fans all over the world who were tuning in to hear Bruce's final show.

She also played a song titled Dear Ken that had been sent in by two listeners.