Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Anderson: Tributes paid to veteran BBC broadcaster who has died aged 69 following a long illness

A 'unique' talent much-loved across Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Tributes have flooded for the much-loved broadcaster and presenter Gerry Anderson, who has died aged 69 following a long illness.

As one of the most recognisable voices on radio in Northern Ireland, Anderson's wit, musical talent and relaxed on-air style helped him grow a huge following.

An irreverent morning phone-in show won a legion of loyal fans - with his back and forth between co-host Sean Coyle often resulting in fits of laughter.

He had been off-air for almost two years, due to poor health.

The former show band guitarist had a 30-year career in broadcasting, including an ill-fated spell on Radio 4.

Aside from several hosting jobs on TV for BBC Northern Ireland, it's his role on Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle for which he will be remembered for.

A native of Derry, Anderson termed the now well-known alternative name of 'Stroke City' for his home - a nod to the endless contention over what his home town should be called.

Almost 10 years ago he was inducted into the UK Radio Hall of Fame.

Tributes have poured in from colleagues and politicians.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: Gerry Anderson brightened all our lives,as a broadcaster he had few equals.My sympathy to his wife Christine,their family & BBC colleagues.

Fellow broadcaster Gloria Hunniford said Gerry Anderson was "unique".

"Very deeply sad to hear about Gerry. We sort of grew up together as broadcasters," she said.

"Gerry really was unique...We loved him dearly."

Director of BBC Northern Ireland, Peter Johnston, described the broadcaster as a "true legend of the industry".

"Gerry was a man of great wit and mischief, but he also brought great wisdom and insight to what he did.

"Of course, he'll be sadly missed by all of us, but also by all his loyal listeners, for whom he often brought light on dark days over the decades.

"I had the great pleasure of being in London on the occasion when Gerry was awarded the Hall of Fame for the UK Radio Academy, which just demonstrated what a true legend of the industry he was, a really significant figure.

"I think in Gerry's case - it's often said lightly but in his case truly, I don't think we'll ever see his like again."

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan said Londonderry had "lost a very special son".

"Gerry Anderson earned a special standing with his wit, warmth, his way with words and his off-the-cuff, on-the-button observations," he said.

"He was appreciated and respected in a way he never cultivated. He had a natural style but never styled himself for the status or the eminence he achieved, or the special connection that everyone felt with him.

"Derry has lost a very special son, an unceremonious ambassador, and broadcasting has lost a limited edition of one."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt described Anderson as "an unchained and irrepressible spirit".

"Gerry couldn't spell 'rules' and he helped free up all of us who were presenters on Radio Ulster in the 1980s and beyond," he said.

"He was also a very generous, encouraging man who had no fear of rival talent.

"I first worked with him at an Ulster Grand Prix when I was a sports presenter and he arrived as a roving reporter in white shoes on a dark, wet Saturday when the paddock was a sea of mud. He simply did not see what the problem was.

"My condolences to his wife Christine, and broader family. The BBC is a poorer place today."

Further reading

BBC's Anderson dies after illness

Gerry Anderson: Veteran BBC broadcaster dies aged 69 after long illness 

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