Ken Bruce final Radio 2 show – as it happened: DJ says goodbye as fans and fellow stars share emotional tributes
Ken Bruce aired his last ever BBC Radio 2 show today, Friday 3 March, after 31 years of presenting the station’s mid-morning programme.
Bruce, 72, has been with the BBC since 1977 when he started out as a presenter on Radio Scotland.
While introducing his final show on Radio 2 this morning, he told listeners not to look for any “hidden agendas” in his music choices, assuring them: “They’re just good songs. Enjoy!”
The DJ is moving over to commercial station Greatest Hits Radio, where he will begin broadcasting on 3 April.
In February, Bruce claimed that BBC bosses had decided they wanted him to leave early, instead of fulfilling his contract to the end of March.
Reports followed that he was axed early by the BBC in efforts to prevent him from promoting his new Greatest Hits show.
Find out everything that happened on Bruce’s final Radio 2 show below...
Ken Bruce axed early by BBC ‘to prevent him promoting his new Greatest Hits show’
Ken Bruce tells listeners there is no ‘hidden agenda’ in today’s music choices
Ken Bruce says early BBC exit ‘seems a shame’
Zoe Ball hands over to Ken Bruce for his final show
09:32 , Ellie Harrison
“You are very loved,” Ball told Bruce as her show drew to a close this morning. He was met with a round of applause by those in the studio. “Lots of lovely music on this programme,” he said, introducing his show with “Can You Feel It” by The Jacksons. “Don’t go looking for any secret messages or hidden agendas behind them. They’re just good songs. Enjoy!”
Ken Bruce says early BBC exit ‘seems a shame’
09:43 , Ellie Harrison
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: “It’s entirely within the BBC’s right to ask me to step away a little early.
“But for the sake of 17 days, which was all that was remaining [on my contract], it seems a shame.”
Bruce was originally due to complete his Radio 2 contract on 24 March, but the BBC had asked him to host the last edition of his weekday mid-morning show on Friday instead.
Why did the BBC ask Ken Bruce to leave three weeks early?
09:59 , Ellie Harrison
Insiders have claimed that Bruce’s contract with BBC Radio 2 was axed early in efforts to scupper promotion for his new show at Greatest Hits Radio.
Read the full story here...
Ken Bruce axed early by BBC to prevent him promoting new show, say insiders
Why today is a sad day for Radio 2 listeners
10:11 , Ellie Harrison
In a tribute to Ken Bruce for The Independent in which she describes the broadcaster’s presenting style as like “an arm around the shoulder”, Helen Brown writes: “To hear that he had decided to leave (to be replaced by the younger, shinier-toothed Vernon Kay) came as a shock.
“The mood curdled when it transpired Radio 2 bosses had refused to let him work out his contract, insisting he get his slippers out from under the desk by lunchtime today.”
Read the article in full below...
Ken Bruce’s departure signals the start of an era Radio 2 listeners never wanted
Ken Bruce jokingly tells off listener for ‘not particularly nice’ message
10:31 , Ellie Harrison
“People are sending in nice things today but some people aren’t sending particularly nice things,” Bruce said, laughing. “Sean from Buxton has said, ‘Don’t forget, Ken, to sew some kippers into the lining of the studio curtains before you go.’ Well, that’s not a very nice thing. I wouldn’t do a thing like that in this studio.”
Last ever Popmaster quiz on Radio 2 is underway
10:35 , Ellie Harrison
Ken Bruce has been one of Radio 2’s best-loved hosts, in part thanks to PopMaster, a game that tests listeners’ pop knowledge.
The DJ introduced the quiz in 1998, and the last one to ever on Radio 2 is currently underway.
Listeners calling in to play the quiz have said emotional thank yous to the presenter for his warm company, humour and kindness, all of which have provided a soundtrack to their lives.
Bruce is taking the quiz with him to Greatest Hits Radio.
Rob Brydon brings back his brilliant Ken Bruce impression
11:27 , Ellie Harrison
Comedian Rob Brydon has stood in for Ken Bruce many times on his radio show and once even impersonated him for an entire two-and-a-half hours on air.
In a pre-recorded message played for Bruce as a surprise on his last Radio 2 show this morning, Brydon said: “Hi Ken, it’s Rob Brydon. Sending you my best wishes and congratulations as you start on this new chapter, and also to say thank you for letting me be you that day on April Fool’s Day some years ago.”
Doing his best Bruce impression, Brydon continued: “Because it really was a lot of fun indeed, and I hope we get to do it again some day.”
Jeremy Vine calls Ken Bruce best person he’s ever worked with
11:41 , Ellie Harrison
Jeremy Vine came on Ken Bruce’s final show to tell him how much he’d miss him. Here are the highlights from their exchange:
Vine: “I was working it out, and you and I talk for three minutes a day… So that’s 10 hours a year meaning over 20 years it’s 200 hours I haven’t been paid.”
Bruce: “You’re saving the BBC a lot of money there… somehow it feels longer!”
Vine: “I’ll miss you so much, you’re always ahead of me on every story… am I allowed to say I’ve worked with some great people and you’re the best? I know you don’t like praise, but you’re the most generous, intelligent, talented colleague.”
Bruce: “We Scots, Glaswegians particularly, don’t take praise.”
Vine: “For us, at Radio 2, you’re the presenter we all want to be like.”
Bruce: “I will miss these chats immensely.”
Ken Bruce opens gift from production team
11:57 , Ellie Harrison
There was a lot of loud rustling on the airwaves as Ken Bruce opened his present from the production team. To say goodbye to Bruce on his last show on the station, they had given him a framed picture of the whole team together, a PopMaster t-shirt and a card. There might have been other gifts but, in typical Bruce fashion, the presenter hurried through any praise, said a big thank you, and whacked on “My Love” by Petula Clark.
Ken Bruce’s last song on Radio 2 is...
12:00 , Ellie Harrison
The 1969 track “The End” by The Beatles.
Ken Bruce’s final words on Radio 2
12:12 , Ellie Harrison
Introducing his last songs, Ken Bruce told listeners: “I’ve come to my last link, as we say on radio. A lot of people would say, ‘Write down a big speech and deliver it,’ but that’s not the sort of thing I do.
“I do really want to say thank you to anybody who has contributed in any small way to this programme, particularly the listeners. I couldn’t do it without the listeners who contribute and complete the dialogue. We talk to each other on a daily basis, and I hope maybe some time in the future we may be able to continue doing that...
“Thank you, particularly, to the members of the Ken Bruce Preservation Society, who sent in a lovely bottle of a certain Irish cream liquour, which I thought about drinking after song nine of the show today...
“Thanks to all who’ve sent any kind of message of congratulations or good riddance...
“I would like to say thank you, particularly, to Phil McGarvey and Janine Maya-Smith. They are the only two in the production team, what a fabulous team they have been.
“And to the BBC, I’ve been here for a long time and apart from the occasional vagary it is still the finest broadcasting organisation in the world.”
Ken Bruce says Vernon Kay ‘doesn’t need my advice’ taking over Radio 2 slot
13:41 , Isobel Lewis
Talking to journalists outside his last Radio 2 show, Bruce was asked if he had any advice for incoming show host Vernon Kay.
“Vernon doesn’t need my advice,” he replied. “He’s a great guy. I wish him all the very best.”
Kay will take over the mid-morning show in May.
Lorraine Kelly calls Ken Bruce a ‘class act'
13:57 , Isobel Lewis
Lorraine Kelly has also shared her verdict on Ken Bruce’s last ever show...
What a class act Ken Bruce!
Perfect last show - self deprecating, total professional and top fella ❤️
— Lorraine (@reallorraine) March 3, 2023