Bye just now, says Radio 2's Desmond Carrington at end of 70-year career
Broadcasting stalwart Desmond Carrington urged listeners to "dream the impossible dream" as he presented his final radio show after a career spanning 70 years.
The 90-year-old, who began his weekly Radio 2 broadcasts in 1981, ended his last programme with a heartfelt nod to listeners, BBC producers and "countless controllers".
His departure makes way for the return of veteran DJ Tony Blackburn, who had "parted company" with the broadcaster after a row over evidence he gave to the Jimmy Savile inquiry.
Carrington presented The Music Goes Round, which was originally called All Time Greats, for 36 years since it first aired on Sunday October 4 1981.
Opening Friday night's show, he played the same song that opened the hour-long programme in 1981 - The Johnny Mann Singers' Up Up And Away.
Following the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's version of Impossible Dream, Carrington told listeners to "dream the impossible dream".
"A sentiment I thoroughly endorse even if it is impossible."
Carrington began his broadcasting career in 1945 with the British Forces Broadcasting Service and was first heard on BBC radio in 1946 as a member of the BBC Drama Repertory Company.
The broadcaster revealed his plans to retire last month for health reasons after he suffered a second heart failure on Christmas Day last year.
He was operated on within two hours and returned to the show just 10 days later with neither the BBC nor his audience aware of what had happened.
He closed his final show with Mel Torme's That's All, and thanked listeners, without whom "the whole thing would have been quite pointless".
The former actor then said he was off to "snuggle" on the sofa with "golden paws", his pet cat, before ending the programme with his trademark sign-off: "Bye just now from Desmond Carrington."
BBC director-general Lord Tony Hall said: "Desmond has made a huge contribution to BBC radio as part of his remarkable 70-year career.
"He is a natural broadcaster who exudes great charm, and his weekly programme brings joy to listeners both at home and around the world.
"On behalf of everyone at Radio 2, the BBC and all of his millions of listeners, I'd like to thank him for his incredible service and wish him well."
Zoe Ball said Carrington was her "hero" and she had been "listening to him since I was a lass".
Earlier this month Blackburn, 73, revealed he will be returning to Radio 2 in January, saying he "can't wait to get behind the mic again".
He tweeted on Friday: "My good wishes go to Desmond Carrington who did his last show tonight. I met him on several occasions and he is a lovely man."
Blackburn was taken off air by the BBC in the wake of Dame Janet Smith's review into sexual abuse at the BBC.