8 July 1950 |
East Grinstead, West Sussex, England
Sarah Mary Kennedy MBE (born 8 July 1950 in East Grinstead, West Sussex) is a British TV and radio broadcaster. She presented her own daily early morning radio show, The Dawn Patrol, on BBC Radio 2 from 1993, before announcing her decision to leave the show on 3 September 2010.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2005 Kennedy was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting.
Sarah Kennedy was born in West Sussex. Her father was a stockbroker and her mother a nurse. She grew up in East Grinstead. She studied for two years at drama school, becoming a drama teacher. She was a matron at Copthorne Prep School.
In her twenties she married a member of the armed forces. She has a partner, Adrian McGlynn, a director of Weatherbys, to whom she refers as her "much beloved". He became a popular character in the show. He is 16 years younger than Kennedy. They met at the wedding of Desmond Morris's son, where McGlynn was best man. They reside in Northamptonshire although Kennedy has an apartment in a converted school building in London.
Kennedy began her career with the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Singapore, before moving to BBC Radio 2 in 1976, where she presented Family Favourites and did the final closedown before the station moved to 24-hour broadcasting in January 1979. She is also president of the hospital radio station known as "Radio Horton", based in the Horton Hospital, Oxfordshire.
Kennedy's first on-screen job was reading the news on Southern Television's Day by Day. She came to prominence in TV as one of the hosts of the ITV light entertainment show Game for a Laugh from 1981 to 1984. She was also one of the team involved with the short-lived BBC current affairs programme 60 Minutes, which ran from 1983 to 1984, and was the main presenter of the ITV game show Busman's Holiday for several series in the 1980s. She also co-hosted The Animals Roadshow and Animal Country with zoologist Desmond Morris in the late 1980s and 1991 respectively.
In 1993, Kennedy returned to Radio 2, to present the weekday early morning show, called The Dawn Patrol. It was originally broadcast from 5am to 7am each day, but moved to the time-slot of 6 am to 7.30 am in 1994. In 1995, Kennedy received a prestigious Sony Gold Radio Award. She had a regular audience of around 4.5 million listeners on Radio 2. Due to Terry Wogan's retirement from his breakfast show in December 2009, the morning radio schedule was changed, and Kennedy returned to her former slot between 5am – 7am. It was announced on Friday 3 September 2010 that she was to leave her Radio 2 show. She had been absent for several weeks beforehand and would not return to the show before a shake-up of the schedules in October. Her programme was presented during this time by Lynn Parsons.
Kennedy has also published a novel, Charlotte's Friends, as well as two collections of listeners' tales, called Terrible Twos (two editions) and Terrible Pets.
Characteristics and mannerisms
Her reworking of English words was a distinctive element of the show. She changed names as follows: "The Eaglingtons" (Eagles), "The Kinkingtons" (The Kinks), "Sainsbugs" (Sainsbury's), "Colleag-wees" (colleagues), "supermercado" (supermarkets as in Spain), "breasticles"/"chesticles" (breasts), Chancellor of the Exchequingtons etc. She frequently read out the expression "SW's to you" from listeners who wrote in. "SWs" was shorthand for "Love the show" (as in the oft-quoted phrase by Steve Wright on his programmes, hence the use of his initials). Many listeners wrote in to ask what "SWs" actually meant, but she rarely explained it. Kennedy was also said to have been the first person to use the term 'white van man' in 1997.
Career incidents and controversies
Kennedy has sometimes suffered with her health, and has had to take time off work. Her slurred speech throughout her show on 13 August 2007 made the headlines, giving listeners cause for concern, but the presenter blamed a sore throat. She presented the following day's show as normal, before taking a month-long break, leaving the show to be presented by colleagues Pete Mitchell, Alex Lester, Aled Jones and Richard Allinson. It was later reported that Kennedy was recovering from pneumonia. She returned to work on 10 September 2007.
She also attracted concern after a bizarre performance while standing in for Terry Wogan in May 1999. This included calling Ken Bruce an "old fool" and referring to the presenter of the day's Pause For Thought slot as "an old prune". She blamed the incident on a lack of sleep the previous night and apologised to listeners. She had been due to stand in for Wogan the following week, but took time off instead.
In October 2007 she was reprimanded after joking (in a segment about the importance of wearing visible clothing in winter road conditions) that she had almost run over a black pedestrian because she couldn't see him in the dark. The BBC later apologised for the comment. She has previously opined that black men dominate athletics because they are accustomed to being pursued by lions.
In May 2014 Kennedy was banned from driving for 22 months for drink driving. She had crashed into a stationary car.
Exit from Radio 2
Kennedy had presented The Dawn Patrol since 1993. Due to Terry Wogan's departure and a minor reshuffle in 2010, her show moved from 6.00–7.30am to 5.00–7.00am. Many listeners were already concerned that the 5.00am starts were starting to affect aspects of Kennedy's health and her absences became more frequent.
In August 2010, she took three weeks off work. Lynn Parsons took over the show in her absence. During this time, rumours began to circulate that she wouldn't return. On 3 September, it was announced that she was to leave the station. Sarah Kennedy, in a Daily Telegraph interview published later in the month, claimed she had been forced out by an "enemy" at the BBC and denied having a drink problem. On 17th January 2011, Vanessa Feltz took over the Early Breakfast show from 5.00am to 6.30am and continues to do so presently.
- The London Gazette: . 11 June 2005.
- BBC News: BBC's Frank Gardner collects OBE
- Sarah Kennedy at the Internet Movie Database
- William Langley (4 November 2007). "Sarah Kennedy's blunders". Telegraph.co.uk.
- BBC Radio 2: Sarah Kennedy biography
- "Radio Horton". Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "Busman's Holiday". IMDB.com. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- Robinson, James (3 September 2010). "Sarah Kennedy to leave BBC Radio 2". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- "Charlotte's Friends". Macmillan. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
- BBC News: E-CYCLOPEDIA White Van Man: Cut up about it
- BBC News: Slurring presenter blames illness
- Donovan, Paul (26 August 2007). "Foot in mouth". London: Times Online. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
- "'Stressed' Sarah takes a week off". BBC News. 24 May 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "BBC apologises for 'racial slur'". BBC News. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- Malvern, Jack (1 October 2007). "BBC apologises for Sarah Kennedy's race gaffe". London: Times Online. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
- "Kennedy rapped for Powell comment". BBC News. 19 July 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- Neil Midgley "Sarah Kennedy: 'I was never, never, never drunk on Radio 2'", Daily Telegraph, 21 September 2010
- Sarah Kennedy at the Internet Movie Database
- Sixty Minutes
- Busman's Holiday
- Reviews at DooYoo
- Review at Ciao!