Humberside's nattering pensioners put radio's young guns in the shade


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The Independent Online

Beryl and Betty do not deliver what one might consider to be stereotypical DJ one-liners. Nor are they hip young things waxing lyrical about the latest chart sensation. When these ladies get chatty on the mic, their cackling banter veers from memories of wartime rationing to lustful thoughts about Michael Bublé.

Last night, Beryl Renwick, 86 and Betty Smith, 90, struck a blow for grey power after becoming the oldest ever winners of a prestigious Sony Radio Academy gold award, beating BBC 6 Music duo of Adam & Joe and comedian Frank Skinner to the prize.

The duo were the surprise winners at the UK "radio Oscars" when their cult show on BBC Humberside claimed the Best Entertainment Programme prize, an honour previously awarded to Chris Evans and Russell Brand.

The pensioner duo's unlikely break came after BBC producer David Reeves overheard their chirpy chat when they joined a tour of the Hull studios six years ago. Searching for a different voice for the Humberside station, he offered them their own show.

Their weekly 6pm Saturday programme now has an audience of 20,000 listeners but the DJs pay little heed to radio convention. They cheerfully talk over jingles and offer teasing opinions on the contemporary pop they are required to play (Madonna has "two left legs", Betty recently observed).

The conversation frequently turns to the sex appeal of younger men – in particular the Canadian crooner Bublé. Beryl disclosed on air: "If he was in the studio now, I'd put me arms round him and give him a squeeze, I'll tell you."

The judges praised "a joyous, entertaining double act," who "give a voice to a sector of society unrepresented on radio".

The grey power theme at this year's Sonys continued with Nicholas Parsons, 88, who has been the host of the Radio 4 panel show Just A Minute since 1967, receiving the lifetime achievement award, in recognition of his 45-year run on the popular programme.

BBC 6 Music, the digital station threatened with closure under corporation cost-saving plans, celebrated a spectacular turnaround after winning the top prize, for UK Station of the Year. The prize for Speech Broadcaster of the Year went to Victoria Derbyshire for her 5 Live current affairs programme.