Radio 2 smash hit broadcast from Perthshire home

Desmond Carrington. Picture: BBC
Desmond Carrington. Picture: BBC
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IT IS the speciality music show which plays the hits of the 1940s and 1950s, broadcast from the rural Perthshire home of its presenter.

And that makes it all the more surprising, Desmond Carrington says, that he is seeing soaring numbers of listeners tuning in for his weekly 7pm Friday slot on BBC Radio 2.

The Music Goes Round last week drew 861,000 listeners – its biggest audience in the decades since it began.

Official Rajar figures yesterday showed the number of listeners has increased by 184,000 in the past year alone.

Last night, Carrington spoke to The Scotsman of his delight, and puzzlement, at his growing success.

The 88-year-old – who introduces each show by saying “evening all from home in Perthshire” – began presenting a regular programme for Radio 2 in 1981.

A former actor, who appeared in the hit 1960s television series Emergency Ward 10, he said his show “makes my life and has done for the past 33 years”.

The Music Goes Round plays tracks from the 1920s until the present day, although post-war hits feature most often.

He said: “I didn’t know how many listeners we were getting until someone told me the latest audience figures, which are extraordinary.

“The show appeals to all age groups from 11, 12 and 13-year-olds right up to the old listeners in their 80s and 90s.

“It’s my selection and although I can’t say I have a particular song, I would say the audience seem to like Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade.”

He said it appeared his show had unwittingly tapped into new interest in that era.

Carrington said: “The music from the era I play seems to be getting more and more popular.

“It could be that younger listeners are hearing the songs in films and are interested in the fashion of the time.

“My show is the only place that they can hear this kind of music and the elderly love it too.”

He added: “I was going to retire but I kept being inundated with e-mails from across the world, including Russia and South America, all telling me the same simple thing, which was, ‘Don’t give up’. That’s what keeps me going.

“The show makes my life and has done for the past 33 years. I’m going to give it at least another two years until I’m 90 in 2016.

“I get e-mails and messages from right across the spectrum – a lot of people tell me they listen in their gardens, and we’ve been having good weather.”

Carrington, who lives near the Ochil Hills, went on: “I moved to Perthshire from down south in 1995 and we started doing the programme live in 1997, on the day Princess Diana died.”

He added: “I did my first ever radio broadcast in 1945 in Rangoon and I was in uniform.”

At the end of the Second World War, Carrington joined a British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) radio station based in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Carrington, whose show is largely drawn from vintage songs from stage and screen, presented a Sunday lunchtime slot for 23 years from 1981 to 2004.

His show then moved to Tuesdays, and he took over his current Friday evening slot in April 2010.

In 1989, he won an International Award for his radio scripts and production, and was voted British radio personality of the year in 1991.

For 11 years, he co-presented prestigious charity concerts given by the Massed Bands of the Royal Marines at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan said: “Desmond Carrington will soon be celebrating his seventh decade of radio broadcasting.

“He now reaches more listeners than ever before at 7pm on Friday evenings.

“This is a wonderful testament to a truly extraordinary broadcaster.”