| 15.5°C Belfast

Radio 4 shipping forecast stalwart to leave after F-word blunder

Radio 4 has replaced a continuity announcer known as the "voice of the Shipping Forecast" a month after he accidentally swore on air.

Peter Jefferson, who worked for the BBC for 45 years, swore after mixing up his words as he tried to complete a sentence before the famous "pips" at the top of the hour on Radio 4. The 64-year-old has been told by BBC managers that his services are no longer needed.

The Corporation received two complaints after Jefferson's accidental outburst during the 8pm pips on 18 August. He was reading a continuity announcement when he mixed up his words, causing him to almost talk over the beginning of the pips.

Although he managed to finish just in time he could then be heard muttering the F-word between the second and third pips, mistakenly believing he had turned the microphone off: "Archive on Friday... on Four on Saturday at eight... f***!"

The BBC offered a swift apology and said at the time it would discuss the issue with Jefferson.

Last night, the Corporation insisted that the decision to end his freelance work as a Radio 4 continuity announcer was unrelated to the incident and part of a wider plan to open up opportunities for newcomers. It said Jefferson would still feature on the station's panel game Quote Unquote.

David Anderson, Radio 4's presentation editor, said: "We have a hugely experienced team of continuity announcers and newsreaders who add much to the quality of Radio 4, and Peter has been very much a part of the fabric of the network for many years. We are extremely grateful to him for his contribution throughout that time both as a member of staff and as a freelancer. Peter has also been a great colleague and always a gentleman."

A spokesman for the Corporation added: "It is important that we look forward and it is in the light of these future considerations that we have decided to make some space on our freelance rota to provide more opportunities to newcomers."

There are more than 20 continuity announcers and newsreaders on Radio 4 but at this stage only Mr Jefferson has left the Corporation.

The news will disappoint millions of listeners for whom his distinctive voice on the Shipping Forecast was synonymous with the station.

Jefferson took early retirement from the BBC in 2001 but continued to work for the Corporation as a freelancer. His last shift will be on 20 September.

Jefferson joined the BBC in 1964, first as a librarian, before working as an announcer on the World Service, the Home Service and the Light Programme. He has been at Radio 4 since 1974 and appeared on Quote Unquote and Poetry Please.

Belfast Telegraph