After getting back from Greece last week, I found out that Radio 2’s Malcolm Laycock has left the station after 14 years of presenting his “Sunday Night at 10” programme, following a row over music content in the show.
The row started towards the end of 2008, when the BBC changed the format of the show – dropping a half hour of British dance band music: a move which sparked complaints to both Radio 2 and the BBC Trust.
Malcolm’s decision to leave the station was announced on air during the closing minutes of his programme, on Sunday 26 July:
…and from me Malcolm Laycock, with great regret, I have to say that this is my last Sunday Night at Ten programme. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to sit in this chair every week for the last fourteen years. I made many friends through the programme, and many of you have been kind enough to write to me and send me messages of encouragement. Thank you. I’m going to miss our weekly get-togethers. And I must thank too my original producer Roy Oakshott, and my current producer Caroline Snook. So – finally – I leave you with the band who’ll be playing at the Concord Club on Wednesday, the Back to Basie Orchestra with another classic, Neil Hefty’s Flight of the Foo Birds. So – for the last time – take care.
Quoted from a forum post on R2OK!
In a statement written on Radio 2’s messageboards, it was suggested that Malcolm Laycock left the station “for personal reasons”.
The decision to leave was Malcolm’s – Malcolm decided to leave BBC Radio 2 for personal reasons and everyone at Radio 2 respects his wishes, he’ll be greatly missed.
Quoted from Radio 2’s messageboard
However… it has become apparent that the so called “personal reasons” aren’t personal after all. An e-mail sent by Malcolm to one of his listeners was later published in an online forum:
Thank you for your message.
Yes. You are right….I was indeed ordered to drop the British dance bands.
That was just one part of the long-running disputes I have had with Radio 2. I will not go into the details, but I understand that Radio 2 has said on its ‘message board’ pages that I have left “for personal reasons”. Not so.
I have issued the following :-
“I am very saddened to have ended my ‘Sunday Night at 10’ programmes after 14 years. I did not want to leave but unfortunately Radio 2 was not able to offer me a satisfactory new contract, which left me with no alternative but to withdraw. The music, the musicians and the audiences have been my life and my pleasure since my first big band and swing programmes over 30 years ago. For the moment I shall take a rest and draw breath. But who knows? Sometimes when one door closes, another one opens….!”
Quoted from a forum post on R2OK!
Lots of people are complaining to the BBC about the sudden departure to the BBC and their local MPs, saying that this is yet another quality broadcaster fallen off the Radio 2 radar.
I can only agree with them here – Malcolm knew how to make a good, quality radio programme and I was always impressed by his knowledge of the music he played. Although its not the type of music I would want to listen to all the time, and although I didn’t listen every week, I did enjoy Malcolm’s shows. I am disappointed that his sudden departure happened whilst I was in Greece, without access to a computer to hear it.
So… what does this mean for Radio 2? Malcolm was due to take 4 weeks off anyway, so Clare Teal will present these shows as planned until the end of August. Details of a permenant replacement presenter will be announced soon after.