Jimmy Young (broadcaster)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Jimmy Young (disc jockey))

Jimmy Young

Leslie Ronald Young

(1921-09-21)21 September 1921
Died7 November 2016(2016-11-07) (aged 95)
London, England
Other namesJY, Jimbo
EducationEast Dean Grammar School
  • Singer
  • DJ
  • radio personality
Years active1950–2002
Employer(s)BBC Radio 1 (1967-73)
BBC Radio 2 (1973-2002)
Known for"Unchained Melody", "The Man from Laramie"
Wendy Wilkinson
(m. 1946, divorced)
Sally Douglas
(m. 1950, divorced)
Alicia Padstow
(m. 1996)

Sir Leslie Ronald Young CBE, known professionally as Jimmy Young (21 September 1921 – 7 November 2016), was an English singer, disc jockey and radio personality.[1] Early in his career in the 1950s he had two number ones, "Unchained Melody" and "The Man from Laramie", both in 1955, and several other top ten hits in the UK chart, but he became better known for his long-running show on BBC Radio 2, The JY Prog, which ran from 1973 until 2002.

Early life[edit]

Young was born in Cinderford, Gloucestershire. The son of a baker and a dressmaker, he attended East Dean Grammar School. Young nearly died from bronchitis, double pneumonia and pleurisy as a child.[2] He excelled at boxing and rugby, playing for Cinderford RFC and later turning down a place with Wigan's rugby league team.[3]

After his parents divorced in 1939, he left for South Wales to work as an electrician.[4] Young later joined the RAF staying until 1949, becoming a PT instructor.[5]

Singing career[edit]

Young signed to the new Polygon Records in 1950,[6] joining Petula Clark, Louis Prima and Dorothy Squires. All his recordings on the label were conducted by Ron Goodwin. Goodwin later said he always liked working with Young "because he was always so enthusiastic. He thought everything we did was going to be a hit."[7] The most popular was "Too Young" which he recorded in 1951, but this was before the days of UK record charts which didn't start until November 1952, so the record books do not list it. The song was a big sheet music seller at the time and was a cover version of the Nat King Cole original. There were also two duets with Petula Clark that year, "Mariandl" (b/w "Broken Heart").

During the early 1950s, while singing on radio in Manchester with the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra (later the Northern Dance Orchestra or NDO), he struck up a friendship with announcer Trevor Hill with both men trying to put off the other live on air by pulling faces.[citation needed]

In 1952, he signed a recording contract with Decca. Young enjoyed Top 10 successes with "Eternally", "Chain Gang" and "More" (with which he surpassed Perry Como's American original in the British Singles Chart listings). His most successful year as a recording artist was 1955, when "Unchained Melody" (from the film Unchained) and "The Man from Laramie" (from the film of the same name) were both number one hits. He returned to the UK Top 20 after a lengthy absence in 1963 with "Miss You" and continued to release singles until the late 1960s. However, after the success of Elvis Presley, he became anxious, depressed and increasingly dependent on sleeping pills. In February 1960,[8] he started to have thoughts of suicide, and one friend told him to see an astrologer, Katina Theodossiou.[8] Young said later, that "She said I was going to be a great success...there is absolutely no way with your chart you can commit suicide. In actual fact you're going to be around so long they're going to have to take you off the field and shoot you". Young later credited her with saving his career. Young said "She forecast that my future lay in interviewing people, not singing".[8]

Disc jockey and radio broadcaster[edit]

After a period with Radio Luxembourg,[9] Young joined the BBC. He became a host of Housewives' Choice, on the BBC Light Programme,[10] and later he became one of the first disc jockeys on BBC Radio 1, presenting the weekday mid-morning show from 1967 to 1973.[11] He then joined BBC Radio 2 in 1973, where he presented a daily lunchtime news and current affairs programme. The show (which he referred to as "The JY Prog"), ran from 2 July 1973 to 20 December 2002.

He developed a popular approach to current affairs and regularly interviewed Margaret Thatcher while she was Prime Minister. He broadcast from around the world, including several live shows from Moscow, the first in 1977, and interviewed every British Prime Minister from 1964 to 2010. His theme music was "Town Talk" by Ken Woodman & His Piccadilly Brass. BFN ('Bye for now') was one of his catchphrases.[5]

Although he was offered the opportunity to present a weekend current affairs programme, he turned it down. His radio slot was taken over by the former Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Vine. Shortly after leaving and retiring from the BBC, Young wrote a newspaper column criticising his former employer for instances of "brutality", and making clear that it had not been his idea to leave.[12] He declined lunch with his successor and the pair never met.[13]

He continued to write a weekly column for the Sunday Express newspaper until he retired from this role in November 2014.[14] He did present a Christmas Day show in 2003 on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. On the same day he also appeared on 'Loose Ends' on BBC Radio 4.

Young returned to BBC Radio 2 in 2011 with a special one-hour programme in celebration of his 90th birthday.[15] Sir Jimmy Young at 90, broadcast on 20 September 2011, heard him in conversation with his friend and former sparring partner Ken Bruce, looking back over his career. In March 2012 Young returned to presenting on Radio 2 after over nine years when he joined Desmond Carrington on a weekly show entitled Icons of the '50s. His final radio appearance was in February 2016 when he gave a brief tribute to his former colleague Sir Terry Wogan on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show, the programme that replaced Young's in 2003.


Young was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1979,[16] and promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1993.[17] In the 2002 New Year Honours, he was knighted for services to radio broadcasting.[11]


His first autobiography, J.Y.: The Autobiography of Jimmy Young, was published by W.H. Allen in 1974. His second autobiography, Forever Young: The Autobiography, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2003.[18] In addition he wrote a book in 1982 simply entitled 'Jimmy Young' that concentrated on his broadcasting career.


According to a family spokesman, Young died "peacefully at home" in the afternoon of 7 November 2016, aged 95, with his wife Alicia by his side.[19]


  • Young, Jimmy (1974). J.Y.: An Autobiography of Jimmy Young. W.H. Allen. ISBN 978-0491013710.
  • Young, Jimmy (2003). Forever Young: The Autobiography. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0340734377.



  1. ^ "Veteran broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young dies". sky.com. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  2. ^ Clinton, Jane (13 November 2016). "Farewell friend: Sir Jimmy Young's last interview with the Sunday Express". Sunday Express. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. ^ Leigh, Spencer (8 November 2016). "Jimmy Young obituary: Chart-topping singer and Margaret Thatcher's favourite broadcaster". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 June 2022. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  4. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin (7 November 2016). "Broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young dies aged 95". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Jimmy Young: Too old?". BBC News. 2 November 2001. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  6. ^ Ruby, Jennifer (7 November 2016). "Veteran broadcaster and singer Sir Jimmy Young dies at the age of 95". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  7. ^ Kutner, Jon (26 May 2010). 1000 UK Number One Hits. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857123602.
  8. ^ a b c "Sir Jimmy Young: You Ask The Questions". The Independent. 30 October 2003. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  9. ^ Wilson, Benji (20 September 2011). "Sir Jimmy Young: I've forgiven the BBC for sacking me". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Obituary: Jimmy Young". BBC News. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Jimmy Young | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Sir Jimmy vents anger in column". BBC News. 5 January 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  13. ^ Moss, Stephen (1 June 2020). "Jeremy Vine: 'At the BBC you can have values but you can't have views – that's how I operate'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Although parting is such sweet sorrow, it's time for me to go", Sunday Express page 37, 2 November 2014
  15. ^ "BBC Radio 2 welcomes back legendary broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young CBE" (Press release). BBC. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  16. ^ "1979 Birthday Honours". The London Gazette. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  17. ^ UK list: "No. 53153". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 31 December 1992. p. 9.
  18. ^ "Sir Jimmy Young: You Ask The Questions". The Independent. 30 October 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young; Veteran broadcaster dies aged 95". BBC News. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  20. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 615. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]