Belfast Telegraph

You'd rarely meet Stephen Clements and not see him smiling, says tearful pal Connor

Connor Phillips and Stephen Clements during their Cool FM days
Connor Phillips and Stephen Clements during their Cool FM days

By David O'Dornan

BBC presenter Connor Phillips fought back tears as he remembered his friend Stephen Clements, who began his broadcasting career working alongside him at Cool FM.

He reflected fondly on the "devilment" the pair would get up to on air but also revealed that Stephen had a sensitive side behind the scenes.

He said: "The big shock is because of his larger than life personality - I know it's a cliche for me to say that, but he did embody that.

"Even sitting having a coffee with him, it was like that as well, but you could also have a very sensible, grown-up, deep conversation with him too.

Stephen Clements with his wife Natasha and their children Poppy and Robbie
Stephen Clements with his wife Natasha and their children Poppy and Robbie
Dream job: DJ Stephen Clements with his son Robbie
Beach life: Stephen Clements, with his daughter Poppy, has fond memories of Barry’s in Portrush
Leading man: Stephen Clements taking part in The Royal Does Strictly with Brenda Creaney of the Belfast Trust in 2012
Sunday Life News brenda shankey, eamonn holmes, Q Radio Stephen Clements and Cate Conway recording the Christmas Special. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life 19-12-2015
Stephen Clements is set to present his own show on BBC Radio Ulster
Dream job: Stephen gets settled in
Stephen with wife Natasha
The RUA’s Annual Exhibition takes place at the award-winning Ulster Museum.
Great cause: Stephen Clements with Children in Need’s Pudsey
Stephen Clements with wife Natasha and children Poppy and Robbie
BBC Children in Need are presenters Holly Hamilton and Stephen Clements with Pudsey Bear.
Twitter postings: Stephen Clements
The BBC NI studio with presenters Stephen Clements and Holly Hamilton

"You could go to him with something. You could have a chinwag and tell him stuff was p***ing you off and be open and honest. There was a very sensitive side to him - a lovely, lovely guy."

He added: "The two of us are very similar in that we both moved to the BBC and it was something both of us had always aspired to do.

"We both wanted to work in the BBC, we both wanted to do grown-up radio but with a smile, and he was doing that really well. And that's the thing that's really hit me now."

Manchester-based Connor is planning to fly in for the funeral with his wife Holly Hamilton, who worked with Stephen hosting programmes during the Open Golf Championship in Portrush last year.

He continued: "There's only a handful of people in the industry that had the kind of effect that he had.

"It's tough, it's hard to gauge it. Holly was very upset. She was working with him a couple of weeks ago and then she had her show with him during the summer. It's just horrendous."

Connor said he will hold on to the fun times they shared and the memories they made working together at Cool FM.

He said: "We kind of had a similar role. I think one of the things we did well is that he did the Saturday breakfast show and then I did the show after him.

"So what we did was we kind of developed a double act which we called Connor and Clements. And we did that for a while and worked together for three or four Christmases and at Christmas they'd allow us to do a show together for at least an hour and it was dangerous putting us two boys on at the same time because there was too much devilment!

"We have a similar sort of energy, where you bring a lot of energy into the room, and he was that kind of person.

"Again we're similar as well in that you'd very rarely meet either of us and we're not smiling. And that was his thing, you'd very rarely meet Stephen or you'd very rarely walk into a room when he wasn't smiling.

"So my first impression when I met him in the back room at Cool FM and I was working away, plugging away and trying to make my own way at things and in comes this other fella, a very similar broadcaster to me, and anyone else would have been threatened but it was completely the opposite with Stephen, to be honest with you.

"Because he was straight in, trying to make friends very quickly and that's kind of what he did.

"We always somehow ended up being crossover shows. He always ended up on before me or on after me and that was like the devilment all the time consistently. That picture of us is how I remember him."

Connor said that Stephen was a breath of fresh air when he arrived on the scene - and he was certain that his friend was set to realise his potential this year after breaking into the BBC. He said: "I think he was going to do that this year. He had plans, he had a few things in the pipeline this year I think which were really exciting things."

An emotional Connor choked back the tears when asked how he would remember his old friend and former colleague.

He said: "I know how I'll always remember him. Cool FM was being taken over by Bauer at the time, who were coming over to rejig things and we had new bosses and we all had to go into the office for a meeting - it literally was all of us going into the office to find out whether our jobs were there or not because they were streamlining everything.

"And Henry Owens - God rest him, he's no longer with us either - said in a thick Cork accent: 'Stephen, listen, I really like you on the radio and you bring something new. It's great, I love what you're doing but... every time you talk on the radio, you don't have to be funny'.

"And like I said in my tweet yesterday, I'm delighted he ignored that. I am delighted he ignored everything that he said because every time Stephen did speak on the radio, there was something."

He added: "He was himself on air. A lot of jocks put on a performance, but it was not a performance - it was more just an extension of himself."

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