Julian Simmons

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Julian Lynus Simmons (born 20 February 1952, Belfast)[1] is a Northern Irish television presenter, best known as a continuity announcer on UTV, mainly covering weekend evenings.[2]

Julian Simmons doing promo work for U105 in Castlecourt Shopping Centre, Belfast

Present role[edit]

Simmons usually introduces programmes on the station in-vision and is mainly associated with his links into what he has described as his favourite programme,[3] Coronation Street, on Friday evenings, where he puts on a tragic James Young impression and refers to recent story developments on the programme. When talking about his Coronation Street introductions, he comments that he is "...imitating what I [hear] people say on trains and on buses... people talk about the soaps as if it's happening to real people."[2]

In addition to announcing the following programmes, Simmons also introduces competitions under the Watch to Win banner.[4] He can also sometimes be seen presenting UTV weather forecasts.[5]

His favourite catchphrase, usually heard when announcing the latest episode of Coronation Street, is: "But now on the UTV...".

Broadcasting career[edit]

Simmons' career in broadcasting began when he appeared in amateur drama productions in Belfast while working for Air Canada at their offices in the city.[2] In Julian (a documentary produced for the Belfast community television station NVTV), he observed: "Somebody saw me in a Belfast comedy, and said that 'You should be on TV, I know somebody who you should speak to'. So I set my letter in, and duly arrived up at Havelock House, with amateur tapes that I had made of comedy sketches that I was performing in my kitchen, and bathroom, and bedroom... and I presented those and they listened to them and said, 'Yes, those are quite funny, but there's no opening for that sort of thing here at the moment. Here's a news bulletin, let's hear you read that.'"[2] Simmons was then offered a six-week trial as an announcer at Ulster Television.[6]

When he started working at UTV, Simmons' job involved reading news and sports bulletins as well as introducing the channel's programmes, but he felt uneasy with newsreading. "I didn't know what I was talking about... My main worry when I was reading the news was...you are worried about making a mistake, but I was also worried I was going to laugh. I have this thing if I'm hearing bad news, or someone goes to tell me something grave... it must be a nervous thing, I feel myself starting to smirk. So I was always terrifed that when I was reading the news that I was going to laugh."[2]

In the 2005 Julian documentary, Simmons describes how his continuity duties eventually changed: "Continuity was very straight... and then one Christmas, I was in for four or five days over the Christmas period, all done up like a dog's dinner and a dickie bow... no news to read, so I started introducing these programmes and acting 'a bit of the lig' in between the programmes. And it went down very well, apparently. They decided I would do permanently weekends: Friday/Saturday/Sunday primetime, where the programmes are all entertainment; nothing hard or heavy."[2]

Between October 2006 and February 2009, Simmons appeared on UTV Live and UTV Life to talk about upcoming storylines on Coronation Street and Emmerdale, the two main soap operas shown on UTV.[7] He has also presented the light-hearted archive series, UTV Rewind[8][9] and the travel series Come Fly with Julian.

In addition to his presenting career at UTV, Simmons starred in the film Wild About Harry, playing the role of Michael Bay.[10][11]

Each year on Christmas Eve, Simmons hosts traditional Santa Flashes where he gives his own account of Santa Claus' journey from the North Pole traditionally stating that he is going to land in Ireland first.

Personal life[edit]

As a young boy, Simmons attended Belmont Primary School and Methodist College, and spent his holidays in his parents' native Kent.[12] Simmons had an interest in drama at a young age; he held puppet shows at his home[2][12] and appeared in amateur drama productions.[13] Before his broadcasting career began, Simmons worked in travel agencies in Belfast, and later worked for Air Canada in Belfast and London between 1978 and 1997, combining this with his announcing work for UTV.[13][14]

In 2011, Simmons underwent surgery for a quadruple heart bypass.[15] He returned to his announcing role at UTV on 3 November 2011 after a four-month break.[16]

Fan Clubs[edit]

February 2013 saw the first official meeting of the Julian Simmons Fans' Society in University College Dublin in the offices of UCD's independent newspaper, College Tribune. Since its inception it has attempted to get official societal recognition to fund itself to hold a Julian Simmons appreciation festival and Shirley Bassey karaoke nights. Membership stands at around 300 students in an unofficial capacity.[citation needed]


  1. ^ UTV People: Julian Simmons' profile; accessed 3 March 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Google Video: Julian; uploaded 29 September 2006, accessed 3 March 2008
  3. ^ Belfast Telegraph: "My kind of things"; published 22 April 2000, accessed 3 March 2008
  4. ^ UTV Today: Watch To Win, 2007–Present; accessed 3 March 2008
  5. ^ UTV Today: In-Vision Weather Forecasts; accessed 3 March 2008
  6. ^ News Letter: "Julian picks his top ten TV moments"; dated 3 August 2007, accessed 17 June 2008
  7. ^ UTV Press Office: Julian's in a lather as he joins UTV Live; published 6 October 2006, accessed 3 March 2008
  8. ^ UTV Press Office: UTV rewinds with Julian on Friday evenings; published 27 July 2007, accessed 3 March 2008
  9. ^ UTV Press Office: UTV lines up a feast of festive programmes; published 12 December 2007; accessed 3 March 2008
  10. ^ Internet Movie Database; accessed 15 June 2008
  11. ^ BFI Film and TV Database; accessed 15 June 2008
  12. ^ a b Belfast Telegraph: "Ten things you didn't know about..."; published 2 March 2002, accessed 3 March 2008
  13. ^ a b The News Letter: "Nothing ever stays same for this continuity man"; published 28 July 2008, accessed 28 August 2008
  14. ^ Sunday Life: "Just Julian": dated 6 April 2003; accessed 6 February 2009
  15. ^ UTV's Julian Simmons has heart bypass, Belfast Telegraph, 10 September 2011
  16. ^ UTV favourite Julian back on screen, u.tv, 3 November 2011

External links[edit]