End of a radio era – but no rest for Lytham’s Nigel

Organist Nigel Ogden
Organist Nigel Ogden

Nigel Ogden’s stint of nearly four decades on national radio is coming to an end – but he has no intention of retiring.

The 63-year-old from Lytham is a familiar face at the organ of The Drive Methodist Church in St Annes as well as maintaining a busy schedule of recitals all over the country.

But for the past 38 years, his name has been synonymous with the weekly Radio 2 show The Organist Entertains, which the BBC has decided to ‘rest’ with effect from May.

Nigel, who grew up in Manchester and has lived in Fylde for the past 20 years, is sad but philosophical at the prospect of the show ending - but is delighted at the profile he has been able to give organ music via the national airwaves for so long.

“It is purely a BBC decision to bring the show’s run to an end,” he said.

“I am sad for the organ world in general that it won’t be on Radio 2 any more but it has been a huge privilege to present the programme for so long and help reflect the enthusiasm there is for organ music.”

The Organist Entertains focuses on the organ in its many guises, featuring recordings and live broadcasts of theatre organs, pipe organs and electronic organs around Britain and the rest of the world.

It was originally broadcast in 1969 and Nigel took over the show from original presenter Robin Richmond in 1980.

“I had already been playing on the programme for some years and after guest presenters were used initially, I got the opportunity to present on a regular basis and it has gone from there,” said Nigel, who records four shows at a time during one monthly visit to Media City in Salford.

“I don’t suppose I imagined at the time that I would still be involved 38 years later but I have thoroughly enjoyed it and thanks to my ever-loyal audience for their support and messages over the years.

“I’d also like to thank Radio 2 for giving me the opportunity to play the music I love each week.”

The Organist Entertains is currently broadcast at 11pm on Tuesdays and the decision to rest it was among a raft of schedule changes announced by the BBC.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, said: “Obviously to deliver this much increased commitment to live broadcasting and to refresh our specialist genres, we have to make many changes to create the space and so we are resting the 30 minute The Organist Entertains and Listen To The Band programmes for the time being.

“They have been long serving programmes on Radio 2 but as the audience evolves we have to reflect what best serves their needs and where there is scope to broaden our offering.”