Jimmy Young Fights Back

Posted on: 04 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Before Jimmy Young left Radio 2 in December 2002, Andrea Kon urged 50connect readers to show their support.

Jimmy - 80 years - Young is fighting for the life of his Radio 2 show by stirring up controversy. His friend and Agony Uncle on the JY show asks could the show be under threat because, "It is a graveyard for second-rate but ambitious men in Fair Isle jumpers."

Feisty Jimmy Young is fighting back. Only days after it was revealed that his contract for his popular BBC Radio 2 morning show may not be renewed, the legendary 80-year-old presenter has once again shown his mettle by interviewing an Islamic extremist on the show, which attracts 5.3 million listeners a week.

A storm of protest followed fearless Jim’s chat with Abdul Haq, a member of the Al-Muhamjiroun group, which boasts of sending British Moslems to fight for the Taliban.

During the controversial conversation, Haq declared, "We will continue to struggle and strive until we see the flag of Islam flying over Downing Street."

More than 200 protesters jammed the BBC’s switchboard when Haq attacked the British military intervention in Afghanistan, saying, "When you are bombing the people of Afghanistant, you are attacking my land and my brothers and sisters. If I was capable of fighting, I would like to go."

Freedom Of Speech

When Jimmy suggested to Haq that he was using British freedom of speech, which he could not enjoy if he opposed the Taliban regime, to promote views which could stir up racial hatred, Haq replied, "We are on the side of the Taliban. At the moment, we are within the bounds of the law. We are going to be protected. But democracy is just the civilised face of dictatorship."

Scotland Yard immediately launched an investigation Haq’s appearance because of the Government crackdown on the laws on incitement to racial or religious hatred.

Jimmy is famous for stirring up a storm on his show. During the show’s 28 year run, he has interviewed every serving Prime Minister, and is a particular favourite of Baroness Thatcher who has been on the programme a record 14 times. Many powerful politicians are so angry at the threat of his removal that questions are now being asked in Parliament. Liberal Democrat media spokesman Nick Harvey has tabled a motion calling on the BBC to end the speculation, and Tory media spokesman Tim Yeo has hailed Jimmy as a "great national institution".

Razor Sharp

Dr. Philip Hodson, a fellow for the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and Agony Uncle to the show for the past three years says, "Jimmy is only 80 medically speaking. He is really about 56. When you are with him, you have no sense that he is an old person. He is razor sharp, funny, sensitive and with twice the brains of Richard Littlejohn."

"Extraordinarily the BBC fail to absorb is that he is their most successful broadcaster. The problem boils down to the fact that the controller or producer of the Jimmy Young show has nothing to do because Jimmy doesn’t need them. His show is a graveyard for the ambitious careers of second-rate men in Fair Isle jumpers."

By Andrea Kon

2nd November 2001

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