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Gerry Anderson ‘brought light on dark days’

�Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 19th September 2010-  Picture by Kelvin Boyes  Press Eye - BBC Broadcaster Gerry Anderson.

File Images 
Gerry Anderson, one of Northern Ireland's best-known presenters, has died aged 69 following a long illness.

In a career spanning 30 years, he hosted radio and TV programmes for BBC Northern Ireland,

�Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 19th September 2010- Picture by Kelvin Boyes Press Eye - BBC Broadcaster Gerry Anderson. File Images Gerry Anderson, one of Northern Ireland's best-known presenters, has died aged 69 following a long illness. In a career spanning 30 years, he hosted radio and TV programmes for BBC Northern Ireland,

There was an outpouring of tributes on Thursday after the death of popular BBC Radio Ulster presenter Gerry Anderson.

Anderson, 69, had been off-air for almost two years battling illness. He is survived by his wife Christine and children David and Kirsty.

He had been a broadcaster for 30 years, his irreverent morning phone-in show winning legions of fans on Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle.

Born in Londonderry in 1944, it was Gerry who first coined the term “Stroke City” in a nod to the contention over the name.

Director of BBC Northern Ireland, Peter Johnston, said he often brought “light on dark days” over the decades.

He added: “I think in Gerry’s case – it’s often said lightly but in his case truly – I don’t think we’ll ever see his like again.”

BBC director general Tony Hall added that his induction into the UK Radio Academy Hall of Fame “speaks volumes of how special and unique a broadcaster and personality he was”.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was “a hugely talented broadcaster with an irrepressible personality who will be greatly missed”.

They added: “In many ways his unpredictable style and wit on TV and radio was ahead of its time and he undoubtedly had an influence on the younger generation of broadcasters. Gerry’s long and varied career is a tribute to the loyalty he inspired.”

Singer Daniel O’Donnell got to know Gerry very early in his career, he said.

“Somebody told me, ‘your record was on the radio and the man playing the record put a rooster on just after you’d started to sing’. From there on the banter began.”

For Gerry’s partner on the show, Sean Coyle, it was always “an absolute pleasure” to work with him, adding that “it just didn’t feel like coming into work”.

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan noted that he “created radio magic out of absolutely nothing and that was a sign of his genius”.

He added: “BBC Northern Ireland has lost not only the finest broadcaster it has had to date, but the greatest it will ever have.”

Songwriter Phil Coulter was another who said he broke the mould.

“You just never knew what to expect with Gerry, and I think that’s what we loved about him in our part of the world,” he said.

Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford began her career with him.

“You were always glad to see Gerry, he always made you smile or laugh, he always had a different take on everything,” she said.

But psychologist Dr Francis Teeney noted Gerry’s profund empathy and abilities.

“In the aftermath of the Omagh bombing he was the first live show to go on the radio whenever it returned to the normal schedule and I thought how he would handle it because it was a comedy show,” he said.

“And for that whole week in the aftermath of the Omagh bombing, he counselled the whole country.”

Ian Kennedy was a founding manager of Radio Foyle who gave Gerry his first job after he made a number of contributions to the station.

“We gave him the show at 11am each morning and he made an immediate impact,” he said. “He was highly intelligent and had terrific insights.”

Gerry’s wife Christine said yesterday that she had been “overwhelmed with the love expressed for Gerry, even in the few short hours since he passed away”.

She added: “I always knew that Gerry was hugely popular. His humour, intellect, creativity and talent made him a great broadcaster and author. The great outpouring of grief today showed us how much he touched the hearts and lives of all who knew him and who followed him.

“Those same traits made Gerry a beautiful and loving husband, father and grandfather and to me the most courageous and best friend anyone could ever have.”

They are “immensely proud” of the way he dealt with his illness, she added.

As Gerry was a very private man, she asked for their home to remain private but invited mourners to his funeral at St Eugene’s Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday at 11am.

 

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