David Jacobs – a legend retires

August 5, 2013 2:48 pm Published by


The great David Jacobs has broadcast the last of his regular shows on Radio 2, as the challenges of old age and ill health conspire to force him from the air.

It feels like the end of an(other) era.

For me, as for so many others, David’s voice was always part of the radio landscape.  I was thrilled to get to work with him, during my own broadcasting career.  The oddities of the structure of Radio 2 meant that, although we’d appeared on the same radio station for some years, it wasn’t until I started as Commentator on BBC TV’s Come Dancing, in 1985, that we actually met!

David was the consummate professional on-screen, the suave sophisticate around town, and a fabulous entertainer over dinner or in the hotel bar, where his fund of jokes and anecdotes would be unleashed.  Impressions, daft voices, filthy jokes, Jewish jokes, filthy Jewish jokes would have us clutching our sides.  David being an old-school Gentleman, the bluest material would only come out when The Ladies had retired for the night.

I was always a little sorry that the beautifully crafted broadcast delivery of David’s radio shows didn’t give more away about his comedic talents, though little glimpses did appear from time to time.  His talent for mimicry, of course, was one of the things that got him into radio in the first place, supplying miscellaneous voices for Navy Mixture, Journey Into Space and various Radio Dramas.

When I joined Radio 2, David was presenting two shows every weekend.  On a Saturday morning, he’d be offering a mix of Sinatra, Torme, Sammy Davis et al, while the Sunday show would be the classical repertoire.  As David put it, in a turn of phrase that may in part be lost on today’s CD and MP3 generation, “I’ll turn myself over and play you music from my other side.”.   Or, as the late, great Ray Moore would have it: “On Saturday David will play you songs from his front side, and then on Sunday he’ll turn over and show you his……..”.   David took this weekly ribbing in good part, as he also did in later years when Ken Bruce would regularly deploy his impression of Jacobs’ trademark “Hallo there!” greeting.   By now presenting a weekday lunchtime show, David took to the air one day with: “Hallo there!  Or, as Ken Bruce would say: “Hallo there!””.

A true broadcast professional for nigh-on 70 years, and a warm, funny human being.
David, I salute you.

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