|Born||(1928-09-17)17 September 1928
Coventry, Warwickshire, England
|Died||8 April 2017(2017-04-08) (aged 88)|
|Station(s)||BBC Radio 2|
|Previous show(s)||Saturday Club, Easy Beat, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Round Midnight, Sounds of the 60s|
|Spouse(s)||Pamela Wickington (m. 1951; his death 2017)|
Brian Matthew (17 September 1928 – 8 April 2017) was an English broadcaster who worked for the BBC for 63 years from 1954 until 2017. He was the host of Saturday Club among other programmes, and began presenting Sounds of the 60s in 1990, often employing the same vocabulary and the same measured delivery he had used in previous decades.
In January 2017, after a short break from the programme due to a minor illness, the BBC announced, against Matthew’s wishes, that he would not be returning to the programme and that he would be replaced. He was succeeded by Tony Blackburn. Matthew died on 8 April 2017.
Matthew was born on 17 September 1928 in Coventry, Warwickshire, the son of musical parents. His father was a conductor of the Coventry Silver Band and his mother a professional singer. Matthew was educated at the city’s Bablake School.
Matthew first broadcast in Germany in 1948, and trained as an actor at RADA before joining the BBC in 1954. On the BBC Light Programme, he hosted Saturday Club (originally called Saturday Skiffle Club, starting in 1957 and changing to its more familiar name in 1958) and Easy Beat (starting in 1960). At the time, pop music played on BBC Radio was limited, and the demand for it among young people meant the shows attracted large audiences. Virtually all the big names of the era, including the Beatles, appeared on the shows. Matthew’s voice is present on the Beatles’ Live at the BBC and On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 CD compilations. On television, he was the presenter of Thank Your Lucky Stars (ITV 1961–66).
The influence of Easy Beat on radio declined owing to the rise of offshore radio after 1964. When BBC Radio 1 launched in 1967, Easy Beat was dropped, and Saturday Club was taken over by another presenter, Keith Skues (formerly of the “pirate” Radio London), before it was also axed in 1969. Matthew celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first edition of Saturday Club in a special edition of Sounds of the 60s on 4 October 2008, by featuring some recordings from some of the shows and entertaining listeners with some reminiscences. In 1972 Matthew narrated The Beatles Story, a 12-part documentary series on BBC Radio 1 and 2, which has been repeated on BBC Radio 6 Music.
In 1973, Matthew fronted a new radio series entitled My Top 12, which lasted for an hour on weekend afternoons on Radio 1. The programme was later presented by Bob Harris and Noel Edmonds. Guests in 1974 included Rod Stewart, Joni Mitchell and Neil Diamond.
Later, Matthew was the presenter of BBC Radio 2‘s arts magazine Round Midnight, from 1978 to 1990. From 1990, he hosted Sounds of the 60s (a programme first presented in 1983 by Keith Fordyce) on the same network on Saturday mornings, playing many of the records he initially played on Saturday Club and Easy Beat.
Matthew announced at the end of his show on 26 August 2006 that owing to an undisclosed illness he would be taking several weeks off his Radio 2 show, for the first time in sixteen years. Johnnie Walker was the main host in his absence. Sandie Shaw, Joe Brown and Suzi Quatro were also guest hosts. Matthew returned to the show in February 2007.
Matthew won a Sony Gold Award in 2008: “To celebrate an impressive record of more than 50 years of national and international radio broadcasting. For that lifetime career and in recognition of a truly outstanding contribution to UK radio.” On 29 October 2016 Matthew became the oldest regular broadcaster on BBC Radio.
On 26 November 2016, Tim Rice stood in as presenter of the show. Rice announced that he would be sitting in for a few weeks since Matthew was “under the weather”. Matthew had collapsed at home and had spent a few weeks in hospital. On 27 January 2017, the BBC announced that he would not return to the programme because of ill health. Matthew himself, however, disagreed with the BBC’s statement. saying: “That’s absolute balderdash. 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.”
The BBC’s off-hand treatment led to an e-petition signed by thousands of “avids” demanding his return. As a result, Matthew presented his final show on Saturday 25 February 2017. A week later 4 March 2017, Sounds Of The 60s passed to Tony Blackburn. However a Brian Matthew show from 2015 was broadcast in the repeat slot on 6 March 2017 with new linking material from Matthew.
Personal life and death
In 1951, Matthew married Pamela Wickington, with whom he had one child, Christopher.
Matthew died on 8 April 2017. Four days before his death, the BBC had reported that he had died, but later corrected this, saying he was critically ill. He is survived by his wife and their son.