Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 10:52 GMT
Veteran DJ Alan “Fluff” Freeman, whose “Not ‘arf” catchphrase made him a household name, has died aged 79. The former BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 presenter had been living in a nursing home in London since 2000 after being diagnosed with arthritis.
Freeman joined the BBC in 1960 after a spell working in his native Australia.
His Pick of the Pops programme – with its distinctive theme tune and his “greetings, pop pickers” introduction – saw him become one of the UK’s top DJs.
The broadcaster died peacefully at Brinsworth House in Twickenham, London.
DJ Simon Bates was among the friends and colleagues who paid tribute to Freeman, calling him “one of those people who everyone wanted working for them”. “I don’t think he had any idea of his own value. He was constantly astonished by his popularity.”
“It is very rare for any broadcaster to create an entirely new form of presentation,” said Noel Edmonds. “Alan will always be remembered for achieving a unique style which was instantly recognisable.”
Born in Australia in 1927, Freeman came to Britain in 1957 after working as an announcer on Melbourne’s 3KZ.
Within six months he made contact with Radio Luxembourg and was employed as a summer relief disc jockey.
He joined the BBC’s Light Programme two years later and went on to enjoy 50 years in the industry, counting John Peel, Robert Plant, Noel Edmonds, Paul McCartney and Chris Tarrant among his friends.
His Pick of the Pops show assumed its regular placing at Sunday teatime throughout the 1960s and he made regular appearances on Top of the Pops.
Tim Blackmore, who was his personal manager for the last 20 years, said: “Alan was a naturally warm man who never quite understood the nature of his appeal. “He cared passionately for music of all kinds, for his family and for his friends.
“Yet through all his professional success, he still retained a total bewilderment that so much success and affection should have come his way.
“His was the creation of the chart countdown, his was the stunning combination of rock music and classical music, and his was the creation of minimalism in the art of the DJ. “We will not see his like again, and our debt in response to his contribution is without equal.”
Freeman’s final contributions to radio focused on opera and classical music, presenting Their Greatest Bits for Radio 2 until 2001.
Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas said he appealed both to radio fans and to the people he worked with. “The words unique and iconic are overused, but in Alan Freeman’s case, they are absolutely appropriate,” she said. “He was a great broadcaster who was loved by listeners and colleagues.”
In 2000 he was presented with the lifetime achievement prize by the radio industry’s Sony Awards. He was made an MBE in 1998 for his services to music