Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Another great broadcaster is gone

I am extremely sad at the news today of the death of Malcolm Laycock. His Radio 2 show, presented in his inimitably quiet, intelligent style, formed the mainstay of our Sunday nights' entertainment. Concentrating entirely upon the British dance bands and the (mainly) American swing bands of the 20s, 30s and 40s, he provided a step back into an era of glamour and style that we could only dream about. His supreme personal knowledge of the era, and of its musicians and artistes, was second-to-none.

I was outraged (and I was definitely not alone, given the campaign of letters to the Radio 2 controller) at his unceremonious departure from the station earlier this year, following an editorial run-in with the BBC. They had already dictated the removal of the "dance bands" part of his programme before he finally parted company with the station altogether. The BBC claimed it was Malcolm's own decision, and that every attempt had been made to try to get him to stay.

However, here is his statement in response to a fan who questioned whether he actually left "for personal reasons" :
"I was indeed ordered to drop the British dance bands. That was just one part of the long-running disputes I have had with Radio 2. I will not go into the details, but I understand that Radio 2 has said on its ‘message board’ pages that I have left “for personal reasons”. Not so.

"I have issued the following :-

“I am very saddened to have ended my ‘Sunday Night at 10' programmes after 14 years. I did not want to leave but unfortunately Radio 2 was not able to offer me a satisfactory new contract, which left me with no alternative but to withdraw. The music, the musicians and the audiences have been my life and my pleasure since my first big band and swing programmes over 30 years ago. For the moment I shall take a rest and draw breath. But who knows? Sometimes when one door closes, another one opens….!”

Kind regards
Malcolm Laycock
Read Gillian Reynolds' article on the furore in The Telegraph

I have no idea of the circumstances of this great broadcaster's death, nor whether any previously undeclared health issues had any bearing on his departure. All I can say is this is a rather ignominious end to a rather great era of broadcasting. RIP Malcolm.

Read the announcement in Radio Today

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