Sarah Mary Kennedy MBE (born 8 July 1950 in East Grinstead, Sussex) is a British TV and radio broadcaster. She presented her own daily early morning radio show, The Dawn Patrol, on BBC Radio 2 from 1993 to 2010.
|Born||8 July 1950|
East Grinstead, Sussex, England
|Occupation||Radio presenter – TV presenter|
|Known for||The Dawn Patrol on BBC Radio 2 (1993–2010)|
In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2005 Kennedy was appointed as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting.
Sarah Kennedy was born in Sussex, being raised in East Grinstead, the daughter of a stockbroker and a nurse. She studied for two years at drama school, becoming a drama teacher. She was a matron at Copthorne Prep School.
In her twenties, she married a member of the armed forces. She has a partner, Adrian McGlynn, a director of Weatherbys, to whom she refers as her "much beloved". He became a popular character in the show. They met at the wedding of Desmond Morris's son, where McGlynn was best man. They reside in Northamptonshire although Kennedy has an apartment in a converted school building in London.
Kennedy began her career with the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Singapore in 1973, before moving to BBC Radio 2 in 1976, initially as a newsreader and continuity announcer. She was on duty for the station's final closedown before it moved to 24-hour broadcasting in January 1979. She continued to present music shows on Radio 2, including holiday cover for Family Favourites until 1983, mainly appearing on 'String Sound' featuring the BBC Radio Orchestra. She was also president of the hospital radio station known as "Radio Horton", based in the Horton Hospital, Oxfordshire.
Kennedy's first on-screen job was reading the news on Southern Television's Day by Day. She came to prominence in TV as one of the hosts of the ITV light entertainment show Game for a Laugh from 1981 to 1984. She was also one of the team involved with the short-lived BBC current affairs programme 60 Minutes, which ran from 1983 to 1984, and was the main presenter of the ITV game show Busman's Holiday for several series in the 1980s. She also co-hosted The Animals Roadshow and Animal Country with zoologist Desmond Morris in the late 1980s and 1991 respectively.
Kennedy returned to Radio 2, to present the weekday early morning show, called The Dawn Patrol, which ran between 4 January 1993 and 13 August 2010. It was originally broadcast from 5 am to 7 am, during 1993, but moved the following year to the time-slot of 6 am to 7:30 am, where it remained until 8 January 2010. In 1995, Kennedy received a prestigious Sony Gold Radio Award. She had a regular audience of around 4.5 million listeners on Radio 2. Due to Terry Wogan's retirement from his breakfast show in December 2009 and the ambitions of his successor Chris Evans, the morning radio schedule was changed, and Kennedy's show was moved earlier to its original 5 am to 7 am slot to accommodate a longer Evans show, starting 11 January 2010. It was then announced on 3 September that year that she was to leave the show. She had been absent for several weeks beforehand and would not return to the show before Evans' show was further extended in October. The programme was presented during this time by Lynn Parsons & Aled Jones and on 17 January 2011, Vanessa Feltz took over the show's slot, which now occupies a slot between 05:00am and 06:30am.
Kennedy has also published a novel, Charlotte's Friends, as well as two collections of listeners' tales, called Terrible Twos (two editions) and Terrible Pets.
Characteristics and mannerismsEdit
Kennedy;s reworking of English words was a distinctive element of the show. She changed names as follows: "The Eaglingtons" (The Eagles), "The Kinkingtons" (The Kinks), "Sainsbugs" (Sainsbury's), "Colleag-wees" (colleagues), "supermercado" (supermarkets as in Spain), "breasticles"/"chesticles" (breasts), Chancellor of the Exchequingtons etc. She frequently read out the expression "SW's to you" from listeners who wrote in. "SWs" was shorthand for "Love the show" (as in the often-used phrase by Steve Wright on his programmes, hence the use of his initials). Many listeners wrote in to ask what "SWs" actually meant, but she rarely explained it. Kennedy was also said to have been the first person to use the term 'white van man' in 1997. "Bunty Bagshaw" was an eccentric alter-ego she adopted.
Career incidents and controversiesEdit
Kennedy has sometimes suffered with her health, and has had to take time off work. Her slurred speech throughout her show on 13 August 2007 gained media attention, but the presenter blamed a sore throat. She presented the following day's show as normal, before taking a month-long break, leaving the show to be presented by colleagues Pete Mitchell, Alex Lester, Aled Jones and Richard Allinson. It was later reported that Kennedy was recovering from pneumonia. She returned to work on 10 September 2007.
She also attracted concern after a bizarre performance while standing in for Terry Wogan on the breakfast show in May 1999. This included calling Ken Bruce an "old fool" and referring to the presenter of the day's "Pause For Thought" slot as "an old prune". She blamed the incident on a lack of sleep the previous night and apologised to listeners. She had been due to stand in for Wogan the following week, but took time off instead, and Bruce took her place.
In October 2007, she was reprimanded after joking (in a segment about the importance of wearing visible clothing in winter road conditions) that she had almost run over a black pedestrian because she couldn't see him in the dark. The BBC later apologised for the comment. She has previously opined that black men dominate athletics because they are accustomed to being pursued by lions.
In May 2014, Kennedy was barred from driving for 22 months for drunk driving. She had crashed into a stationary car.
Exit from Radio 2Edit
Kennedy had presented The Dawn Patrol since 4 January 1993. Due to Terry Wogan's departure from the main breakfast show in December 2009, and the ambitions of his successor Chris Evans, Kennedy's show moved from 6–7:30 am, where it had been since January 1994 to its original 1993 slot between 5 and 7 am, from 11 January 2010. Many listeners then became concerned that the 5 am starts were starting to affect aspects of Kennedy's health and her absences became more frequent.
Kennedy presented the show for the final time on Friday 13 August 2010, after which she took three weeks off work. Lynn Parsons took over the show in her absence. During this time, rumours began to circulate that she would not return. On 3 September, it was announced that she was to leave the station. Sarah Kennedy, in a Daily Telegraph interview published later in the month, claimed she had been forced out by an "enemy" at the BBC and denied having a drinking problem. On 17 January 2011, Vanessa Feltz took over the Early Breakfast show, which she continues to present between 5 and 6:30am.
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- "Charlotte's Friends". Macmillan. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
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- "'Stressed' Sarah takes a week off". BBC News. 24 May 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- "BBC apologises for 'racial slur'". BBC News. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2009.
- Malvern, Jack (1 October 2007). "BBC apologises for Sarah Kennedy's race gaffe". Times Online. London. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
- "Kennedy rapped for Powell comment". BBC News. 19 July 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- "Driving ban for former radio presenter after admitting drink driving". ITV News. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- Neil Midgley "Sarah Kennedy: 'I was never, never, never drunk on Radio 2'", Daily Telegraph, 21 September 2010