Belfast Telegraph

Get back on our TVs soon, Julian

By Gail Walker

You’ve only got to look at the online posts on the story about Julian Simmons’ quadruple heart bypass on this newspaper’s website to realise the huge groundswell of affection for him.

'Get well soon', they say. Or: 'It's not the same without you introducing Corrie.' Or simply: 'Julian Simmons, Broadcasting God.'

The outpouring of good wishes is no mystery. Julian may be that man off the telly, but many feel they know him as well as their own brother or dad. They've never met him but he's been their friend for as long as they can remember. One of the few TV continuity announcers left in the UK, Julian is as much a part of our wee country as Belfast baps, Comber spuds and gridlock in the city every time it rains.

He was there all through the Troubles when he'd be rushed on air at a moment's notice to read out police warnings to keyholders to return to their premises: a familiar face in desperate times. Or, in the mornings, there he'd be, all easy chit chat, talking nineteen to the dozen to the housebound, the elderly, the ill, the lonely, the mums back from the school run, about what programmes would be on that day. No matter your circumstances, you weren't on your own.

And while his little skits as he announced some shows may have got up the noses of a few pseuds, give me Julian putting on a funny voice and having a laugh any day over the aloof BBC. At least it feels like it's from here.

In his inimitable way, Julian is a true star and his fans are right, UTV isn't the same without him. Oh, and there's another post that - if I know Julian - will certainly cheer him up as he recovers, pointing out that though he's been around forever, they didn't think he was quite as old as he is.

Never mind Julian, you'll always be 39 to us.

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