Kalemkerian's send-off is a pipe dream

Mary Kalemkerian with bagpipe player Mary Kalemkerian leaves Broadcasting House to the sound of skirling pipes

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Mary Kalemkerian was escorted from BBC premises after 30 years by a bagpipe player in full Highland regalia.

The Scottish born and bred head of programming at Radio 4 Extra described it as 'the perfect end' to a career that began at BBC Scotland and has ended with her retirement.

She had been 'tucking into the Tunnock's tea cakes' at a farewell tea party at Broadcasting House when 'all of a sudden, the uplifting sound of bagpipes filled the office. To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement', she said.

Mary Kalemkerian with bagpipe player Mary sings along to 'Cock O' the North'

The woman who launched and made a success of BBC Radio 7 - rebranded as Radio 4 Extra in 2010 - took her leave to the pipe marching tune 'Cock O' the North' to which she sang the alternative lyrics she'd enjoyed as a 'bairn'.

'What a wonderful and joyous surprise,' she reflected. 'To be piped out of BH felt such a great honour.'

Sony winner

Kalemkerian was named Sony station programmer of the year in 2008 and steered her station - a speech-based network broadcasting the pick of comedy and drama from the vaults - to two other Sony golds.

Gwyneth Williams, controller of Radio 4 and 4 Extra, said Kalemkerian's 'editorial leadership has been a key part of making Radio 4 Extra into what it is today'.

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