17 September 1928 |
Coventry, Warwickshire, England
|Station(s)||BBC Radio 2|
|Previous show(s)||Saturday Club, Easy Beat, Thank Your Lucky Stars, Round Midnight|
Brian Matthew (born 17 September 1928) is a British broadcaster, who became well known in the 1960s. He is still broadcasting on radio for the BBC, having presented Sounds of the '60s since 1990, often employing the same vocabulary and the same measured delivery he used in previous decades.
Early life and career
Born in Coventry, Warwickshire, Matthew was educated at the city's Bablake School. He started broadcasting in 1948 in Germany, and trained as an actor at RADA before joining the BBC in 1954. He became popular in the days of the BBC Light Programme, hosting 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, there was little pop music played on BBC Radio, certainly when compared to the huge demand for it among young people, and the shows attracted audiences into the millions. Virtually all the big stars of the era, including the Beatles, appeared on the shows.
The influence of Easy Beat on radio declined owing to the rise of offshore radio from 1964 onwards. When BBC Radio 1 launched in 1967, Easy Beat was axed, 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 1973 Matthew fronted a new radio series entitled My Top 12, which lasted for an hour on weekend afternoons (as well as being on 247 metres, medium wave was broadcast simultaneously also in FM stereo sound when Radio 1 joined the Radio 2 FM frequency 88-91 MHz). My Top 12 could be considered BBC Radio 1's equivalent to Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. The programme was later presented by 'Whispering' Bob Harris and Noel Edmonds. Guests in 1974 included Rod Stewart, Joni Mitchell and Neil Diamond. In 1975, Duane Eddy, the million-selling instrumentalist was a notable guest on the programme.
This long-running series used a simple but effective format: request a well known music personality to list his favourite records of all time and invite him into the studio to record his comments, his life and loves and of course, play the records.
Later, Matthew returned to prominence as the host of BBC Radio 2's arts magazine Round Midnight, from 1978 to 1990. Since April 1990 he has 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. Regular listeners are affectionately referred to as "avids".
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, with recordings of Matthew's A to Z of the Beatles feature also being employed to maintain his presence in the programme. Sandie Shaw, Joe Brown and Suzi Quatro were also guest hosts. Matthew returned to the show on 10 February 2007, informing the listeners that a viral infection contracted while in hospital for a minor operation had required an extended period of time in hospital, followed by several weeks of recuperation at home.
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."