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Our Julian is a symbol of a golden age ... and as curtain falls on his UTV screen career, we say thanks for the memories

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 15/10/2016

Julian Simmons
Julian Simmons

The change in UTV after the sale of the company is symbolized by the fact that Julian Simmons makes his last on-screen appearances this weekend, though he will continue to be heard on the airwaves. It is the end of an era.

There is a trend across the ITV network of centralizing resources, and this can lead to vanilla-like television. There is a need for a varied media output in Northern Ireland, and the local touch should not be lost. There is also a need for journalists to hold others to account, to investigate, and to reflect the colour, charm and extraordinary everyday human interest stories of the local area.

It is important to celebrate the best of UTV - "our own wee station" - and this is reflected in this newspaper, today, by Stephen Nolan.

He underlines the strength of UTV's local brand, and what is lost when something like this is diminished. The era of Julian was a remarkable story - from being the man who was brought on air in times of trouble to warn keyholders to return to their premises, and also recalling his legendary links with the 'Corries'.

As Stephen Nolan points out, Julian became a brand that many other organisations would like to have had.

He was distinctive to Northern Ireland, with his use of the vernacular, and a rich sense of humour that is in the Ulster tradition.

Julian was one of those distinctive 'everyman' figures, to whom everyone could relate. There were many others as well, including Gerry Kelly who had a large following, and deservedly so.

UTV gave national broadcasters like Gloria Hunniford and Eamonn Holmes their first breaks.

There was also a strong local journalist tradition, including newsman Johnny Irvine who went on to be a heavyweight international reporter, and also our own Ivan Little.

Stephan Nolan is right to celebrate the Golden Age of UTV. So we thank the broadcaster and its personalities for the memories, and wish them all the best for the next stage of the journey.

Belfast Telegraph

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