Veteran broadcaster Robbie Shepherd bids farewell to BBC show

Taking the floor for the last time tonight, Robbie Shepherd will mark the end of a remarkable 35 years of presenting the show. Picture: Contributed

Taking the floor for the last time tonight, Robbie Shepherd will mark the end of a remarkable 35 years of presenting the show. Picture: Contributed

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He has led the country in a merry jig for more than three decades, but Robbie Shepherd is preparing to take the floor for the last time.

The veteran broadcaster, a tireless ambassador for Scottish country dance music for more than three decades, will this evening bid farewell to loyal listeners of his long-running BBC Radio Scotland show.

The 80-year-old, one of the most recognisable presenters on the nation’s airwaves, said he plans to “take a break”, having helmed the Saturday night programme, Take the Floor, since 1981.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those to pay tribute to Mr Shepherd, with the head of BBC Scotland describing his relationship with his listeners as that of a “close family friend”.

Mr Shepherd, from Dunecht, was an accountant to trade before he started working as a compere and producer of variety shows.

His dalliance with light entertainment led to an opportunity in broadcasting, although his Doric dialect led to condescending treatment at a time when the Queen’s English prevailed, with some dismissing him as a “rough and ready country loon”.

Now in the twilight of his career, it is that famous voice for which Mr Shepherd is perhaps best known alongside his personable manner.

Describing his manner when behind the microphone, he explained: “I like to think that I am broadcasting to a lady in the top tenement in Glasgow at the same time as I am chatting to a lady in a croft.”

It is an approach that has seen Mr Shepherd recognised with an MBE and inducted into the Trad Music Awards hall of fame.

Despite the fact he will be handing over presenting duties on Take the Floor to Gary Innes, Mr Shepherd indicated he will not be retiring for good after “35 years of sheer pleasure”.

He said: “I am taking a break, that is for sure. But, as they say, I am a wanted man. I hope sincerely you have not heard the last of this Doric voice.

“It has been 35 years of top-class music. From the great masters of the past to present-day performers, Scottish dance music continues to be a vibrant scene.”

He added: “I would also like to thank the many hundreds of musicians, whose music we’ve featured, and the audiences in halls at our recordings across the country who have provided a great atmosphere for the show.”

Ms Sturgeon tweeted that she was sad to hear Mr Shepherd was “hanging up his headphones” but sent him her “best wishes” for the future.

BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie said: “Robbie is one of Scotland’s most recognisable voices and, over the years, he has been like a close family friend for many of our listeners.

“A passionate supporter of traditional Scottish music, Robbie has, over more than three decades, shared his in-depth knowledge and his infectious enthusiasm with generations of audiences.”

“I’d like to thank him personally, both for his work with Radio Scotland and for his passionate commitent, championing Scottish traditional music across the country.

“Although we’re grateful that he’ll continue to work for us on one-off broadcasts in future, we wish him well as he prepares to Take the Floor for the final time.”

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