Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Zany host Alan vows lots of fun on Radio Ulster slot

Wacky radio host Alan Simpson is hoping it'll be a case of third time lucky when he starts his latest job.

Wacky radio host Alan Simpson is hoping it'll be a case of third time lucky when he starts his latest job.

Alan takes over today as the new voice of BBC Radio Ulster's afternoon slot - following in the footsteps of legendary presenter George Jones.

And the Portrush man is keeping his fingers crossed that his bosses at the BBC will appreciate his zany sense of humour.

According to Alan, his "class clown" routine didn't always go down well - particularly when a microphone was involved.

"One of the first jobs I had was working as a bingo caller on the Promenade in Portstewart," he recalled.

"I was told each game had to last four minutes but I was called back by the boss and told that mine had lasted 23.

"That's because I had the window open and the mike out, chatting to people who went past," he quipped.

"Another job I had was working in a shirt factory. I sneaked into the boss's office to use his tannoy, doing impersonations of his plummy, English voice. We'd never heard a voice like that in Coleraine before.

"He didn't see the funny side. I ended up getting sacked from both jobs."

Despite these hiccups in his early career, Alan went on to become a music promoter and later a club DJ, hosting Northern Ireland's biggest venue, Lush in Portrush.

And his talent for making people smile finally paid of when he landed a summer stint at Radio Ulster, standing in for Ralph McLean.

After doing a few pilot shows with Joan Toal and Colin Murphy, Alan was asked to step into Ralph's shoes for holiday cover and made such an impression, he was offered the afternoon slot on a permanent basis.

"I was really thrown in at the deep end," he said.

"It was weird. I was sitting there, not seeing anyone and with no windows to jump out of."

Alan conjured up a few imaginary friends to talk to, including one or two characters he'd met in and around Portrush.

These formed the fabric of his show and the self-professed "bletherer" soon found that people were ringing in to have a chat. But he never imagined he would be invited back to present the show full-time.

"I think they wanted someone who was a bit larger-than-life, someone who didn't take themselves too seriously," Alan said.

"The new show is very light-hearted, with a lot of chat and music.

"I'll be playing songs that people haven't heard for a while, the type of thing you'd dance to at wedding.

"I've worked in the entertainment industry throughout my adult life.

"What I want to do is put a smile on people's faces, particularly on these grey November days."

Alan, a former promoter who brought bands like Ian Dury And The Blockheads and Darts to Northern Ireland, said he was looking forward to the new show.

"People like Stephen Nolan and Jackie Fullerton have given me advice and that's to just be myself.

"That's exactly what I intend to do.

"There won't be any serious issues, just loads of banter, fun and music."

Alan Simpson's show begins today on Radio Ulster, from 3pm to 5pm.

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