'Farewell old mate': BBC Radio 2's Brian Matthew dies aged 88

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BBC Radio 2 broadcaster Brian Matthew died at the weekend at the age of 88, the BBC has said.

Matthew, who was once dubbed Britain’s oldest DJ, stepped down from the popular programme Sounds Of The 60s after 27 years in February because of ill health.

The broadcaster was wrongly reported as having died on Wednesday by the BBC, who later clarified that he was critically ill.

BBC Radio Two tweeted: “Farewell to your old mate and ours, Brian Matthew.”

Matthew started broadcasting in 1948 in Germany and trained as an actor before joining the BBC in 1954. After Radio 2 was launched in 1967, he became one of the station’s first DJs and hosted programmes such as Saturday Club, Thank Your Lucky Stars and Late Night Extra.

However, he was best known for presenting the long-running Round Midnight programme which won the 1987 Pulitzer Publishing Award. In April 1990 he began presenting Sounds Of The 60s, which won a Gold Sony Radio Award in 1996, until a special farewell episode earlier this year in which he said he was “saddened to leave”. The BBC said he left the show because of ill health. Tributes to the “outstanding” Matthew were led by the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall who said he had “entertained and engaged millions over generations”.

He added: “He had a wonderful style of delivery and a real connection with his listeners. Brian was a true broadcasting great. We will all miss him and, of course, that voice.”

Head of Radio 2 Lewis Carnie described him as “one of this country’s most popular and best-loved presenters”. Director of BBC radio and music and former controller of Radio 2 Bob Shennan said Matthew was a “radio legend”.

Matthew called Radio 2’s decision to replace him “balderdash” in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in January. His farewell show closed with Billy Fury’s Last Night Was Made For Love and featured Elvis Presley’s Ghetto and The Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home.