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Curtain comes down on Radio 2 programme with Blackpool connections

A long-running radio programme with Blackpool connections is coming to an end after almost 50 years on air.

The Organist Entertains is to be dropped from Radio 2’s schedule following an announcement by the BBC this week.

Blackpool Tower organist Phil Kelsall

Blackpool Tower organist Phil Kelsall

This specialist 30 minute programme focuses on the organ in its many guises, features recordings and live broadcasts of theatre organs, pipe organs and electronic organs around Britain and the rest of the world.

Although usually presented by Nigel Ogden, it sometimes featured guest presenter Phil Kelsall, the Blackpool Tower Ballroom legend.

But the final organ piece will sound over the airwaves on Tuesday January 16, when the last edition of the series goes out at 11pm.

The programme is being ‘rested’ with theatre organist Ogden, 63, retiring.

He said: “I’d like to thank my ever loyal audience for their support and messages during the 38 years I’ve hosted The Organist Entertains.

“I’ve loved hearing from them and send them my very best wishes for the future.

“I’d also like to thank Radio 2 for giving me the opportunity to play the music I love each week - it has been a huge privilege.”

Recordings by Phil, 61, who has been the Tower Ballroom organist since 1975, have also featured on the show.

The programme had been running as a weekly feature on Radio 2 since 1969 and was presented by Robin Richmond until Ogden took over in 1980.

Ogden even played the introductory music, ‘From This Moment On’ by Cole Porter.

The announcement that it was to be deleted from the schedule was made by the BBC on Wednesday.

Phil, 61, has been the Tower Ballroom organist since 1975, when he took to the Wurlitzer aged just 18.

He became the Tower organist five years after the retirement of another Tower Ballroom icon, Reginald Dixon, who held the position from March 1930 until March 1970.

Having held the position 43 years, even longer than his illustrious predecessor, Phil has a following from all over the world - not unlike the radio programme itself.