Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Clements' final show was full of trademark frolics, fun, chat and tunes

Stephen Clements
Stephen Clements

By Gillian Halliday

Stephen Clements was characteristically upbeat when he greeted listeners of his BBC Radio Ulster morning show in what was to be his last programme.

"Hooray! It's 2020," was the presenter's opening gambit, starting Monday's show with the foot-stomping 2004 indie hit Club Foot by rockers Kasabian.

The 47-year-old then spoke of the end of the Christmas holiday period, and his children returning to school after the festive break.

"I adore my children with every part of my being and every part of my soul, but you can't help but think after the schools go back - after two weeks - yes!" he told listeners.

Just hours later his heartbreaking last Twitter post would be a collage of family pictures, including his daughter Poppy and son Robbie, accompanied by the images of a heart and praying emoji.

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His previous post had been made last Sunday when he retweeted a video of Ricky Gervais's blistering comedy attack on Hollywood stars at the Golden Globe awards, calling the clip "absolutely brilliant".

The former Q Radio host's activity on social media had made headlines in the run-up to Christmas when he posted cryptic tweets - one showing a large arrow pointing to an orange Radio 2 logo - sparking speculation he was on the move to BBC Radio 2.

A station spokesperson said it was unaware of any link between the tweets, which were later deleted, and BBC Radio 2.

During Monday's show he revealed he was to host an event this Friday where he would be interviewing Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey, playing Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run in honour of the veteran football boss's love for the other 'Boss'.

His tracklist comprised a range of songs, from the rather sombre new Coldplay track Everyday Life, which Stephen playfully criticised for being depressing for those returning to work, to classic late 1980s club track Ride On Time by Black Box.

He also played Queen hit I Want To Break Free and Thin Lizzy's The Boys Are Back In Town, finishing the 90-minute programme with Dolly Parton's 9 To 5. The country star's song from the movie of the same name was chosen in honour of the show's main topic of discussion - the news that more and more young people no longer have Saturday jobs or work part-time while studying. He recalled his own job as a youngster working on a paper round delivering the Belfast Telegraph to homes on his bike in Carrickfergus.

"Anybody who delivered the Belfast Telegraph will tell you why Thursdays were a nightmare, because that was job day, and the paper was about three times as thick," he recalled. "You can actually tell men or women of roughly my age because they kind of like walk with a slight stoop to one side, where they would have put the Belfast Telegraph bag over their shoulder."

He added: "I had this run that I did on my GT California BMX and part of my run was a place called Fergus Fold, which was an old people's home, and part of the incentive to not miss out any houses was if you did a clean sheet for a month, Mr Leathem would give you a 50p bonus. And I loved getting the 50p bonus."

He then recalled a humorous occasion when he was unfairly denied his bonus due to one of the fold's residents.

"Then some aul boy in the fold said he didn't get his newspaper and I was adamant, and Mr Leathem said: 'No, I'm sorry, he says he didn't get the newspaper'. And I was like: 'He's ancient, he doesn't know what he's talking about! Come down and meet him'."

Stephen continued: "And the wee aul boy said to me after missing my 50p the following week: 'Sorry, Sheila in the next room took it'. Cost me 50p!"

Recalling that he urged the resident to tell Mr Leathem, the presenter said he was met with the reply: "Ach no, sure don't worry about it son."

The father-of-two also spoke of being confronted with tubes and tubes of Pringles crisps after bulk-buying them for the festive holidays, as well as revealing that January 6 was the official date to bring down the Christmas decorations.

To keep them up any longer, he said, is considered back luck to those who are superstitious, which he said he wasn't.

"I've been emptying my mum's old house and there's 12 mirrors in there that are cracked now, that will give me... 94 years bad luck," he joked.

"The only thing that I'm superstitious about are magpies for some reason.

"When I see one magpie I say: 'Good afternoon, Mr Magpie and do a wee salute to him. I don't think they understand English but there you go."

Signing off, he told listeners to have a "good Monday" and he would be back on the air on Tuesday morning at the usual time.

Tragically, following his sudden death, this was not to be.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline 080 8808 800

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