BBC Radio 2 has announced that Brian Matthew won’t be returning to Sounds of the 60s, after more than two months off due to poor health.
Brian last hosted the Saturday morning show on 19th November, with Sir Tim Rice covering the show since then.
The BBC says that Unique, the production company that makes the show, met with Brian recently and agreed that, due to his extended bout of ill health, it felt like the “right time for him to step off the weekly treadmill of presenting the show”.
Radio 2 says it is discussing a series of special programmes with Brian and hope he will return to the station as soon as possible. Sounds of the 60s will continue with a new presenter, the station added.
But Brian told the Telegraph that the corporation’s version of the story differed to his. “That’s absolute balderdash,” he told the paper. “I was ready and willing and able to go back, and they’ve just said they are going to put the programme in the hands of other people.
“I didn’t really have much in the way of ill health. I had a collapse at home at the bottom of our stairs, and my wife called the ambulance service. They came and examined me and said it was a matter for appraisal at the hospital. They put me on a ward, I stayed there for a while and now I’m back at home. I enjoyed doing the show very much indeed. I did it for 25 years. I feel very disconcerted, I must say. I do admit I’m a bit of an antique, but that’s never seemed to matter until now.”
Brian first joined the BBC in 1954 and hosted Saturday Skiffle Club on the Light Programme from 1957, which became Saturday Club the following year. In the early 60s he regularly interviewed The Beatles and other acts on his Easy Beat shows. He went on to present My Top 12 on Radios 1 and 2 in the 70s and then became presenter of the Radio 2 arts show Round Midnight from 1978 to 1990. He has hosted Sounds of the 60s since March 1990.
Brian received the Gold Award at the Sonys in 2008.
Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, said: “Brian is an outstanding presenter and, at 88, a radio legend. He has made the programme his own with his natural ability, passion and warmth and we are incredibly grateful for everything he has done for Sounds of the 60s. We’re very sorry that Brian is unable to continue presenting every week, but hope to welcome him back to Radio 2 very soon.”
Listen to Brian Matthew’s final edition of Sounds of the 60s from November 2016 below: