Radio 2 axes Clare Teal and Bill Kenwright in pop 'refresh'

BBC - Anthony Devlin/PA
BBC - Anthony Devlin/PA

Radio 2 has axed its shows dedicated to swing music and early rock’n’roll as the station concentrates its attention on “the next era of pop”.

The Swing and Big Band Show with Clare Teal, and Bill Kenwright’s Golden Years, have been fixtures of the Sunday night schedules for a decade.

But the programmes will have no place in a “refresh” by the station’s new controller, Helen Thomas.

Kenwright hosted his last show on Sunday and bade his listeners an emotional farewell. Teal will leave the station in January, and told the Daily Telegraph that she was sad to leave.

“The swing and big band community in this country is really strong. It saddens me that the show is going. We’ve built up this audience and it’s a real sharing experience,” she said.

They are the latest specialist shows to disappear from Radio 2. The cull began in 2018 with the end of programmes devoted to brass and military band music and organ music.

Last year the BBC announced the new role of Controller of Pop, appointing Lorna Clarke to oversee the musical direction of Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 1Xtra, the BBC Asian Network and 6 Music.

When she advertised the Radio 2 head of station job in March, Clarke said that she was looking for someone to “help me shape the next era of pop from the BBC”.

However, Teal said swing and big band music do constitute “pop” for her listeners, particularly older listeners who grew up with it.

She said: “This music is popular music of a different era - a soundtrack to people’s lives. It is so memory-linked. I hope older audiences will still be served. Older people don’t all like classical music and they’re not all going to head off to Radio 3.”

Teal hopes to produce a version of her show on the Anchor podcast platform in the New Year.

A Radio 2 spokesperson said: “We would like to thank Clare Teal and Bill Kenwright for bringing such passion and commitment to their shows.

"We are always exploring new ways of reflecting a broad range of genres across Radio 2 and the music they featured will continue to be heard, whether in forthcoming series Top Brass with James Morrison and Barry Humphries’ Forgotten Musical Masterpieces, and within our regular shows, weekly strands such as Sound of the 60s and Jamie Cullum, plus specials. We very much hope to work with both Clare and Bill on future projects."