Belfast Telegraph

I know how he feels, says ex-Beeb presenter Jones

Showbiz legend: George Jones
Showbiz legend: George Jones

By David Young

A former BBC favourite who was axed has said he knows how Sean Coyle feels.

Showbiz legend George Jones's Radio Ulster show was scrapped back in 2006.

The Clubsound star said yesterday it left a huge hole in his life - and the shock affected him and his family for years afterwards.

He has sent a message of support and sympathy to Coyle, who has hosted the show by himself for the last five years after the death of Gerry Anderson.

Jones told the Belfast Telegraph: "Sean had a hard job to keep the show going after Gerry left us.

"And he did it admirably.

"I wish him well and all the best for the future... sadly, I know how he feels today."

Mr Jones said there is no point challenging decisions once they are made by the BBC.

He added: "It was a decision by management, and there's no changing it or going back on it.

"I've been out of the BBC for 13 years now - but I still get people coming up to me in the street and asking why I am not on Radio Ulster anymore.

"When my contract was not renewed, I had to work a six-month notice - and in those six months, I think I nearly doubled my audience figures."

He felt his experience gave him some insight into what Coyle would be going through.

He added: "Maybe it's a generation that's changing, and they maybe want younger people or younger presenters on, but I would just like to wish Sean all the best - and good luck."

Jones was able to refocus on a parallel earlier career with his popular cabaret band, Clubsound, whose 50th anniversary comes around next year.

He added: "I'm lucky in that respect, because Sean will probably have a big void to fill.

"When you walk away from something that's been popular for so many years, there is a big void to fill.

"It's hard when you've been so many years on the radio, to give it up.

"But you've just got to adjust."

Mr Jones said he spent 21 years at the BBC, seeing them as among the best years of his life.

"I felt I was doing a good, worthwhile job.

"I had a massive amount of listeners, and it was hard for me just to walk away and forget about it.

"I wish Sean all the best in the world.

"He had big shoes to fill, carrying on from Gerry Anderson, but he put his own mark on it, built up his own audience and kept close contact with his public - which I think is very important in radio."

Sean Coyle superfan Marion Malcolms, from Conlig, was one of many who called the Belfast Telegraph newsroom yesterday to share her shock and upset at news that her favourite presenter's show was being dumped.

"I can't believe it" she said. "It's beyond belief.

"There are thousands of pensioners like me who love to tune into Sean in the mornings.

"I don't know how I'm going to live without him.

"People are phoning me up and saying, 'Marion, is this true? It can't be true'!"

"It just beggars belief!"

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