EXCLUSIVE: Ken Bruce reveals he could barely speak between songs after his second divorce and used radio as his ‘therapy’
Radio legend Ken Bruce has revealed he could barely speak between some songs after his second divorce.
Bruce, who left Radio 2 after four decades in March in a huge shake-up, spoke out about how broadcasting had helped him through difficult times through most of his career, including the ‘massive low’ of his first split.
The Greatest Hits radio presenter, 72, has tied the knot three times and is married to Kerith Coldham, who he tied the knot with in 2000.
Bruce wed for the first time in 1976 with Fiona Fraser, with whom he had two children, but the marriage was to end 12 years later.
Recalling the time, he said: ‘That was a massive low for me.
‘It doesn’t come out in work. I actually find work therapeutic. Being on the radio is really helpful.’
Two years after the divorce Bruce wed again, only to file for another separation, from Anne Gilchrist, with whom he had his fourth child, five years later.
However, the radio host said after his second heartache, the work proved to be a mixed blessing as he found it hard coping with the lyrics of sad songs which would nearly render him speechless.
Speaking in an interview for the Rosebud podcast, out on Friday 15 September, the father-of-six said: ‘After my second divorce, I found that I was playing records, you know sad records, like Roy Orbison’s Crying or something like that, (and it) would really bring me down.
‘It would be a struggle to do the next link. But that was temporary. Mostly work has been huge therapy for me and got me through an awful lot.’
Asked what caused his first break-up and if he thought he may have been too young marrying in his mid twenties, he said: ‘Yes, probably.’
He added: ‘To begin with I was a very good husband, but I think I became not a terrific husband to be honest.
‘I got into broadcasting. I think I was too concerned with what I was doing.
‘I think I was too absorbed in my work. For me, the job I do has always been what I am and who I am, and what I like to do.
‘I loved having a child. I enjoyed it with every single child. But yes I did have guilt (over his first marriage).’
Eventually the BBC star, whose new TV version of his PopMaster quiz was recently upgraded to prime time Friday night on Channel 4, decided to seek professional therapy.
He added: ‘After my second divorce I went to a therapist just to talk it out because I said to everybody at the time “I’ve been boring all of you, all my friends with how I’m feeling, I’ll go and speak to somebody else”, which I did.
‘That was really helpful. It didn’t take long at all just to work me through it.’
Describing the sessions, he said there had not been any one big revelation or solution, but just talking had proved enough to help him move on.
He said: ‘Occasionally they’re saying “But this means that you…”
‘There were a couple of insights into my relationship that made me think “that’s not true”, then afterwards I thought “that is true actually”.
‘But I don’t think there’s anything that I took from it that would work for anybody else. It was just spilling one’s guts.
‘Actually it did the trick for me. It was really just getting it all out there, and thinking “Right, it is time to move on now”.’
But despite admitting his first marriage suffered as a result of his devotion to work, Bruce said he does not see himself as a narcissist, despite the popularity and success he has gone on to achieve.
He said: ‘I don’t put any store by that measure of success. I don’t look at my audience figures and think “Oh, fantastic”. I just think “well that won’t last”, or “what does that mean?”
‘It just means people don’t really know who you are. They think you’re just so nice and lovely. There’s much more to me which is possibly not so nice and lovely. But that’s what I’m presenting and that’s what they’re enjoying.
‘But I don’t walk away and go home and think “I’m a big star”. The kids will always take the p**s out of you.
‘I think if it all ended tomorrow I’d be ok. I could walk away from it – pretty sure that’s the case. But I do enjoy doing it.
‘There’s a couple of reasons why I’m not retired now at the age of 72, one of them being I still have children going through education. The other thought is that I enjoy doing it and I love doing it.’
Bruce married for a third time to Kerith Coldham in 2000, with whom he shares another three children, sons Murray, 21, and Charlie, 15, and a daughter Verity, 18.
Bruce presented Radio 2’s mid-morning show from 1986 until this year, when he announced his departure saying it was time for a change as he feared he was becoming too old for the station and some of its music.
Already listening figures have soared for his GHR slot, while they have fallen for his old BBC show.
Bruce’s other three children are Campbell, Douglas, and Kate, with the eldest being 42.