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Keith Skues presents last BBC local radio show after 60-year career

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image captionKeith Skues presenting from Broadcasting House in London on the occasion of Radio One's 50th anniversary

A veteran broadcaster is presenting his final show this weekend after a 60-year career spanning armed forces radio, pirate radio, BBC Radio One's launch and a long spell in BBC Local Radio.

Keith Skues, 81, began working in radio in 1959 while in the Royal Air Force.

His last show will be on BBC Local Radio in the Eastern Counties on Sunday.

"I don't know if I'll shed a tear - I've never retired before - but I'll be very sad," he said.

Skues's former pirate shipmate at Radio London, John Peel, who lived in Suffolk until his death in 2004, described him as "the jewel in the crown of East Anglian radio" when Skues was presenting his weekday night-time show across the six BBC East local radio stations.

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Skues said as a child growing up in Timperley, Cheshire (now in Greater Manchester), his biggest inspiration was presenter Roger Moffat on the BBC Light Programme's Make Way For Music.

"I thought 'I love his outspoken style - I want his job'," said Skues, nicknamed "Cardboard Shoes" after an impromptu alias he once gave himself on air.

image captionKeith Skues at the launch of BBC Radio One in 1967 alongside fellow DJs, including Tony Blackburn, Jimmy Young, Kenny Everett, Terry Wogan and John Peel

Keith Skues's radio highlights

  • 1959: While serving in the RAF on National Service, begins working for the British Forces Network in Cologne, and is later posted to Kenya and Aden
  • 1964-67: Pirate radio presenter with Radio Caroline and Radio London - broadcasting from ships outside British territorial waters to get around regulations that prevented commercial radio. Also a stint, on land, at Radio Luxembourg
  • 1967: In at the launch of BBC Radio One and continues with weekend shows, including Saturday Club and Radio 2 shows until 1974
  • 1974: Appointed programme director at commercial station Radio Hallam in Sheffield
  • 1991: Works as RAF public relations officer during the first Gulf War, and later at RAF Marham in Norfolk
  • 1995: Begins presenting weekday evening show on six BBC Local Radio stations in the East of England, and from 2011 his current Sunday evening show, which has notched up 500 editions

Skues said his time on the pirate radio ships had its "ups and downs, but you could do whatever you liked" on air and said he knew that fellow DJs such as Johnnie Walker and Tony Blackburn would make bigger names for themselves.

He recalls being "mobbed by hundreds of kids" when they went ashore at Harwich, and getting hit on the head by a metal stake while on deck in rough seas. This resulted in a lifeboat rescue, a month off work and "stitches... and I've still got the marks".

On his decision to retire, Skues said: "Because of coronavirus, the whole system has changed and they're wanting to go for a younger audience.

"When I was 19 or 20 I was in the right place at the right time and, having reached 500 editions of the Sunday show, it's perhaps the ideal opportunity to retire."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionRadio Caroline's pirate radio ship MV Mi Amigo ran aground near Frinton-on-Sea during a storm in 1966 - a week after Keith Skues had gone ashore

Peter Cook, his current boss in BBC Local Radio, said: "Keith has inspired generations of broadcasters and is one of the true legends of radio who has such a warm and genuine connection with his listeners.

"It's been an absolute privilege to work with him and I'm delighted that we were able to help him reach his milestone of 500 episodes of his Sunday show before his retirement."

Asked to name the highlight of his 60 years, Skues said it was being appointed MBE for services to radio in 2004.

"I've always admired the Royal Family and been at many events with various members without ever speaking to the Queen, but to be given the MBE by her and chatting with her would be the highlight," he said.

The Last Keith Skues Show of All will be broadcast on Sunday at 22:00 BST on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Essex, BBC Radio Lincolnshire, BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Radio Northampton, BBC Radio Suffolk and BBC Three Counties Radio, and it will be available afterwards on BBC Sounds.

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Related Topics

  • Timperley
  • Horning
  • Music
  • Radio

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