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BBC's Karen Patterson and Seamus McKee pay emotional farewells to Radio Ulster

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Karen Patterson

Karen Patterson

Seamus McKee and Karen Patterson

Seamus McKee and Karen Patterson

Karen Patterson

BBC Radio Ulster presenters Karen Patterson and Seamus McKee have paid emotional farewells to Radio Ulster's flagship shows Good Morning Ulster and Evening Extra.

Patterson joined the BBC nearly 20 years ago and presented BBC Newsline for nine years, fronting its breakfast, lunchtime, evening and late night bulletins.

On Thursday, she and co-host Noel Thompson hosted their last show together after almost eight years as a presenting duo.

First Minister Arlene Foster contacted the show on Friday to send her best wishes for Ms Patterson's final show.

“I just wanted to say all the best and wish you lots of merry late nights which I’m sure you’re looking forward to instead of having to get up so very early in the morning," the DUP leader said.

Ms Patterson said she was “quite choked up” as she closed the programme for the final time.

“It’s been a terrific time here on the programme. Ten years - it has flown by.

“Thank you for everything. It means a lot to me. The very best of luck to the people coming behind me. I wish them every success.”

Marking the coincidental exit of both Patterson from the programme and the UK from the European Union, her Friday co-host Joel Taggart joked: “Never mind Brexit, today is Karexit day."

He added: “A sad day for us, GMU listeners, as we say cheerio to our friend and lovely girl with the soft and smiley voice.

"What a professional radio presenter, interviewer, reporter.. whatever the issue.

“Enjoy whatever you do in the future. You can now throw your alarm clock in the bin.

The broadcaster was inundated with messages from listeners who were emotional at her departure. John, from Co Down said: “I’ve never met you but I have a tear in my eye this morning.”

Friday also marked veteran BBC presenter Seamus McKee’s last day presenting Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra, which the broadcast journalist has presented since 2009.

Before it, McKee presented GMU for almost 30 years. He has also presented a number of BBC NI programmes including Spotlight, Hearts And Minds and Songs Of Praise.

The Belfast man was inducted into Irish radio's hall of fame in September last year.

Mr McKee said at the end of Friday's Evening Extra: "Thanks to all my colleagues who have been so supportive and encouraging in these last few weeks. As this is the last time I will be presenting the programme on a daily basis, if you bear with me, there are people I need to thank. My wife Brenda and our daughters Ruth and Emma and Pete our son-in-law and our lovely grand children Eva and Flynn."

Mr McKee thanked his colleagues at BBC Radio Ulster and thanked the people behind the scenes at the station before paying tribute to the listeners.

He added: "Above all, thanks to you, the listeners. Especially for your kind comments and wishes at this time. And for the trust you placed in us in trying to make Evening Extra a place where politicians and public figures are held to account.

"Where people who are not public figures have shared with us on so many occasions their experiences- good and bad. The pain many of you live with, physical and mental.

"A programme where the next generation have talked about their hopes and dreams. And where poets, playwright, singers, performers of all kinds who have given us insights into their artistry and sprinkled some star dust in the studio.

"Whoever takes over has a treat in store."

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Seamus McKee and Karen Patterson

Seamus McKee and Karen Patterson

Seamus McKee and Karen Patterson

Ms Patterson and Mr McKee are the latest presenters to step down from their roles amidst a shake-up to the Radio Ulster schedule.

Wendy Austin presented her last show for Inside Business last Saturday, while Noel Thompson is departing from GMU in March.

The BBC said the presenters took the opportunity to stand down following a review into its schedules and programmes and they would be taking on new challenges and "enjoy a change of pace".

A spokesperson for the corporation said they hope to announce the new presentation line up in the next couple of weeks.

Job advertisements for the positions specified that candidates must be able to “cope brilliantly in a breaking news environment” and be “just as at home interviewing the First Minister and Deputy First Minister as the cast of Love Island”.


Mr McKee said: "Thanks to all my colleagues who have been so supportive and encouraging in these last few weeks. As this is the last time I will be presenting the programme on a daily basis, if you bear with me, there are people I need to thank. My wife Brenda and our daughters Ruth and Emma and Pete our son-in-law and our lovely grand children Eva and Flynn."

Mr McKee thanked his colleagues at BBC Radio Ulster and thanked the people behind the scenes at the station.

"Above all, thanks to you, the listeners. Especially for your kind comments and wishes at this time. And for the trust yopu placed in us in trying to make Evening Extra a place where politicians and public figures are held to account. Where people who are not public figures have shared with us on so many occassions their experiences- good and bad. The pain many of you live with, physical and mental. A programme where the next generation have talked about their hopes and dreams. Those young people. And where poets, playwrites, singers, performers of all kinds who have given us insights into their artistry and sprinkled some star dust in the studio.

"Whoever takes over has a treat in store."


Belfast Telegraph