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Desmond Carrington leaves BBC Radio 2

Desmond Carrington

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Carrington suffered heart failure on Christmas Day 2015

Veteran broadcaster Desmond Carrington is to leave BBC Radio 2, bringing his 70-year career to a close.

The DJ, who turned 90 in May, will host his final episode of The Music Goes Round on Friday 28 October.

“I wasn’t too well after my 90th birthday and it has been a bit difficult to carry on.

“So reluctantly, but I hope sensibly, I’m going to hang up my headphones at the end of October and say ‘enough is enough,'” he told listeners.

“Seventy years on the air since 1945 isn’t a bad record, and it is now time to welcome someone younger.”

Carrington’s show is broadcast from his farm in Scotland. Every Friday at 19:00, he opens with the introduction: “Evening all, from home in Perthshire.”

An hour later, he brings the show to a close by telling his cat, “All right, Sam, out you go,” and signs off with his trademark phrase: “Bye just now.”

Along the way, he plays a handpicked selection of music from the 1920s to the present day – although post-war recordings feature most frequently.

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Carrington broadcasts from a home studio with the assistance of producer David Aylott

A typical show will include everything from 1930s close harmony group The Boswell Sisters to David Bowie via classical pieces and songs from musicals.

“It’s my selection and although I can’t say I have a particular song, I would say the audience seem to like Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade,” the broadcaster once told The Scotsman.

His enthusiasm and bonhomie are key to his appeal, with 710,000 listeners tuning in to hear his show every week, according to the most recent figures.

“I want to thank Desmond for his extraordinary contribution to Radio 2 over four decades,” the station’s controller Bob Shennan said.

“He is a unique broadcaster and has always been a central character in the Radio 2 family. We will miss him, as will his adoring audience.”

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The broadcaster made his debut on British Forces Broadcasting Services during World War Two

According to the station, Carrington has battled cancer and Alzheimer’s disease for several years and suffered heart failure for the second time on Christmas Day 2015.

However, he was operated on within two hours and was back behind his microphone just 10 days later, with neither Radio 2 management nor his audience aware of what had happened.

“I’m eternally grateful to the superb doctors and nurses of the Scottish NHS for saving my life,” he said.

TV career

The broadcaster’s career began almost by chance. While serving as an army officer in World War Two, he heard some broadcasts on British Forces Broadcasting Services (BFBS) in Sri Lanka.

Claiming he was an experienced broadcaster – which he wasn’t – he managed to secure a posting to Colombo and started working on the station.

On his demobilisation and return to Britain in late 1946, Carrington picked up his acting career and appeared in stage shows and several short films including Calamity the Cow, which also starred a very young Phil Collins.

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Rex Features

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Carrington (centre) was also the star of ITV’s long-running drama Emergency Ward 10

He was first heard on BBC Radio in 1946 as a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company and later began broadcasting on the BBC Light Programme, presenting the popular request show Housewives’ Choice, among others.

On television, he landed the role of “heart-throb” Doctor Anderson in ITV’s medical soap opera Emergency Ward 10 – a forerunner of Casualty, which drew audiences of 19 million viewers in the 1960s.

His weekly Friday evening programme, The Music Goes Round, has been broadcast on Radio 2 for 35 years – although it first appeared on Sunday afternoons under the title All Time Greats.

Originally pre-recorded, Carrington began to broadcast live from home on the day Princess Diana died – 31 August 1997 – after agreeing with Radio 2’s controller that a pre-recorded programme would not be appropriate given the day’s events.

BBC director general Tony Hall paid tribute to the broadcaster’s “huge contribution” to broadcasting.

“He is a natural broadcaster who exudes great charm, and his weekly programme brings joy to listeners both at home and around the world,” Lord Hall said.

“As for Golden Paws Sam,” added Carrington, “his days of singing to a pussycat audience are gone now but he still has human admirers, and he knows it.”

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