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Hugo, we love you!

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William Crawley | 17:47 UK time, Friday, 26 March 2010

hugo.jpgI snapped this picture of the living legend that is Hugo Duncan just before he went on air this afternoon.

The wonderful staff of the BBC phone room threw Hugo a surprise party, complete with Birthday cake, and decorated his studio, and the corridors leading to it, with massive pictures of the wee man from Strabane covering most decades of his life.

Hugo turned 60 today. And he looked like he was enjoying every minute of it.

Happy Birthday, Hugo: you're the man.


  • Comment number 1.

    Happy Birthday! Hugo, God Bless ya, you are indeed a credit to the BBC.

  • Comment number 2.

    Et in Arcadia Hugo...

    Sorry I didn't notice this thread yesterday - so a belated very Happy Birthday to Uncle Hugo, denizen of the locus amoenissimus on radio.

    Half an hour listening to Hugo on my Walkman over lunch each day is something which is not just a pleasure, it is virtually a necessity. The world of the wee man from Strabane, the John Deere kid, Stevie Merlot (why couldn't I have been called that?), the bare-backed brickies, and (gloriously) the foot-tapping grave-diggers, is an antidote to the stresses and strains of modern life; it is a place of simplicity, goodness, caring, fun, and joy. (I like the music too - but, Hugo, in the unlikely event you're reading this, don't talk over the songs!)

    Hugo is the Spenser de nos jours. If Watteau were alive today he would paint the roadshows. Hugo, your work is a gift and a joy - thank-you! Live for ever. You're the onions in my burger, you're the sugar in my tea.

    (Is this the time to confess that I have been a member of the wing-mirror club for years?)

  • Comment number 3.

    Funnily enough, on the day Hugo Duncan is 60, Richard Dawkins is 69! Happy birthday to both these fine gentlemen - Will's two favourite chaps :-)

  • Comment number 4.

    Count me out! I cannot STAND his programme. I rush to the radio to switch it off after Talkback. When I do catch it in the car, I hear nothing but: "ye will, ye will, ye will" or: "congratulation to Paddy on your 60th birthday and you don't look a day older than 59". Norn Iron at its very worst. Ugh!

  • Comment number 5.

    What on earth did you say about our Hero?
    That's over 24 hours now!

  • Comment number 6.

    All I basically said was that I can't stand the programme.

  • Comment number 7.

    That's probably the first referral for heresy on the blog.

  • Comment number 8.

    Will doesn't seem to keeping up with topics and I think he really needs a collaborator to post when he's busy
    How about the Good Man Will and the Scoundrel Crawley?

    and the Church of England Bishops accusing the government of discriminating against Christians while treating other faiths more leniently.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have to agree with brianmclinton and I'm glad that the moderators allowed his post. I am sure he is a very nice person and I belatedly wish Mr Duncan good wishes on his 60th birthday, but the BBC must not assume that we are all entertained by his programme.
    I find the afternoon programme to be the most irritating on Radio Ulster. It is annoyingly repetative in it's callers for requests, it's music and the presenter's patter. Perhaps this show would be more suited for late evenings. The BBC recently decided that weekday afternoons was not enough for us so they networked the Radio Foyle Sunday Afternoon show as well!
    I happen to be a fan of country music and I never miss the Bob Harris show on Radio 2, either live or on iplayer but I'm afraid Hugo is not my uncle.

  • Comment number 10.

    What, mair irritatin than a Kist o' Wurds?! What in th'onder is the wurl cummin til fer tae ha wee Hugo an his wee oxters nae as much a burr in the boxers as thon oul processed cabbage? Awa a thon boysadear!

  • Comment number 11.


    Perhaps the BBC should introduce a new programme featuring that inimitable duo: Good Man Will and Wee Hugo. It could be called 'For God and Country'. The scoundrel Crawley could produce the programme and add the occasional titbit a la Sean Coyle.

  • Comment number 12.

    Alternatively, the programme, at 1 30 (after Talkback, thankfully again presented by David Dunseith) could be called 'Good Will Hunting with the Man from Strabane'.

  • Comment number 13.

    I had great difficulty reading Heliopolitan's post about Kist o'Wurds and Google Translator was no help. The only LANGUAGES I learned at school were English and French and I think the moderators should only allow posts in those.
    I was eventually able to get someone living on a grant to translate it for me and I agree!

  • Comment number 14.

    The only thing in Hugo's favour is that he's not George Jones!

  • Comment number 15.

    What we really need is a Hugo/Tommy Millar hybrid. Surely there never was instrument made that produces a sound more delightful to the human ear than the pipe. I jest not, lest any doubt. I love the skirl of the pipes, I could listen to a good band for hours!

  • Comment number 16.

    Joanne, Ulster Scots is dead easy - just imagine someone speaking in the broadest Ballymena you can imagine, throw in agricultural and body-parts colloquialisms, then imagine how that would look if you spelt it phonetically. That's pretty much it. The Ulster Scots for an MP3 player is "MP3 yoke". You get the idea.

    The thing I hate most about "Ulster Scots as a language" is that it is a blatant move to *standardise* the enormously rich and varied way that we speak English over here, with the aim of producing some sort of North Antrim hegemony. Our dialect is a living thing; record it, analyse it, watch it in its natural habitat. But cage it, standardise it, fossilise it, and you kill it.

    That and the fact that it is touted as a "language for the Protestant people" to offset Irish as a "language for Catholics". IMHO, the Irish language should be shared, as it is part of our collective heritage. And it is a proper language of course.

  • Comment number 17.

    If Hugo has turned 60 (yes, I know he doesn't look a day older than 59), should he not be retired? Let him go home to Strabane and put his wee feet up. It's time for a new voice introducing a more 'catholic' range of music (that's not just for mcc). How about a programme in the afternoon with a bit of pop, a bit of world music, a bit of jazz, a bit of classical, and even a bit of country (only the better bits!). Music is universal, not provincial, so why do we have to have these pigeon-holing slots? BBC NI has an opportunity to show the world that we are outward-looking, not stuck in our own maudlin little world.

  • Comment number 18.

    Helio - I have no time for Ulster-Scots and would agree that, despite Joanne's almost convincing proof to the contrary, it is most certainly not a language. I strongly suspect that its real purpose is to permit some degree of equalisation of the distribution of state funds to unworthy causes between the two main so-called communities in the province. If we have to throw money away in this fashion I have no objection to mechanisms which promote equity.

    I have to disagree vehemently, however, about Irish. It is time it was consigned to the dustbin of history: let odd antiquarians study it for perverse personal amusement but take it out of our schools totally. Irish is, in reality and despite the misguided efforts of enthusiasts, essentially a dead language surviving on the life-support of nationalistic ideology. Kill it now! I am an internationalist - children should not waste precious time looking inwards and backwards when they could be learning modern living languages which would direct their attention forwards and outwards. Time for Cantonese, Arabic, Russian...

  • Comment number 19.

    Parrhaisos, there are zillions of Chinese, Russian and Arabic speakers keeping those languages going - I have a smattering of Arabic myself, being something of a middle east enthusiast. But Irish underpins so many of our toponyms, and is a key feature of our heritage. It's not dead - there are many Gaeltacht communities where it has never died out. I do agree that it (and much of Irish culture) has been hijacked and rendered into a plastic parody by some, but its loss, or relegation to a purely academic matter, would be very sad. That's what happened with Egyptian before it completely died out, and it took 1500 years before it could re-emerge, with a lot of loss. OK, Irish is not remotely as culturally significant as Egyptian, but we have to fight our own corner. Once something dies, it is not easy to resurrect.

  • Comment number 20.

    Helio - I have no interest in keeping the Chinese, Arabic or Russian languages going, when the time of any of them comes I would happily let them go. Similarly I have no interest in our heritage, the place for the past is in the tip. My home parish has a Gaelic name which no-one can interpret - failure to understand its meaning neither causes me sleepless nights nor starves my soul. Postcodes are a much more rational system of addressing than townlands. Once something dies the place for it in the grave.

    I would happily remove history from the curriculum, all it does is teach children how to speculate about the past and make polemic out of interpretation. Bin it!

    Teaching a language is an opportunity to open the mind to other cultures and other ways of thinking - it is far too valuable an opportunity for the inculcation of an outward-looking spirit to squander in insular self-indulgence.


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