Radio entertainment and showbiz

Ken Bruce goes back to hospital radio for NHS 75th anniversary

Ken Bruce is going ‘Back to the Start’ for an hour long special looking at the world of hospital radio.

As the NHS celebrates its 75th birthday today, the programme will air tonight on Greatest Hits Radio.

There are over 150 hospital radio stations across the UK, run by over 2500 volunteers, having an immeasurable impact on NHS staff and patients by entertaining and lifting spirits when most needed.

Ken is a patron of Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio and chose its Studio One to record the documentary. He talks about how his 45 years in broadcasting began at Glasgow’s Hospital Broadcasting Service – the first time he ever stepped foot in a radio studio.

He also reveals the lessons he learned from that time, such as ‘play what the customer wants’ and why hospital radio remains vitally important for the next generation of broadcasters to get experience.

Music in the programme includes the first records Ken ever played to patients as well as the current most requested hospital radio songs.

Ken is joined on this hour-long broadcast by his colleague Simon Mayo, who presents the station’s Drivetime show.

Simon started his career at Southlands Hospital in West Sussex and he reminisces on his time there. He also talks to Virginia Irvine-Fortescue who was recently named as Best Female Presenter of the Year at the National Hospital Radio Awards for her work volunteering at Grampian Hospital Radio. The winner of Best Male Presenter, Paul Stanley, also chats to Jo Russell for the documentary.

Other guests on the show include Martin Kinch who has volunteered at Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio since January 1979. He remembers playing records on vinyl and how patients would listen to the radio on plastic tubes that came out of the wall!

Ken also spoke to Anna Cook, a cancer care nurse who recently won a Rising Star Award for the NHS and spoke about the impact hospital radio has on patients – particularly those in for a long stay.

The final guest is Peter Dickson, voice of The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent and a fellow supporter of Stoke Mandeville’s hospital radio station. As with Ken, Peter got his start in hospital radio where he learnt his trade eventually becoming, in his own words, ‘a voice for hire.’

Ken says: “On what is a very special day for the NHS it feels fitting that Greatest Hits Radio should be looking at how important hospital radio has been to both patients and staff over the past decades.

“I know for me it was an opportunity to do something I loved but give back to people at the same time. It allowed me to make a lot of mistakes – that I continued to make in my professional career! – but it gave me the confidence to get out of them.

“It has nurtured incredible broadcasting talent, been a lifeline for patients and an escape for staff with hugely demanding jobs. We’re thrilled that Greatest Hits Radio can highlight this incredible institution that has meant so much to those who have ever had to spend time in or worked in one of our NHS hospitals.”

Greatest Hits Radio is also making this one-hour programme available free to every hospital radio station in the UK. Stations should contact for information on how to download the programme.

You can hear Ken Bruce – Back to the Start on Greatest Hits Radio at 9pm tonight, Wednesday 5 July.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

You might also like