Gerald Michael "Gerry" Anderson was a radio and television broadcaster for BBC Northern Ireland. Renowned for his unique style and distinctive sense of humour, Anderson often referred to himself on his show, as "Turkey Neck", "Puppet Chin" or "Golf Mike Alpha".
Early life and career in music
Anderson was born in Derry in 1944, growing up in Sackville Street in the city centre. He was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers and went to work as an apprentice tool-maker and a clerk in a shipping firm. In 1963, having taught himself the guitar, he moved to Manchester where he worked in nightclubs. A tour of Scotland, England and Canada followed, with the showband The Chessmen. In 1972, while in Canada, Anderson joined a band called Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. He returned to Ireland where he gained a degree in sociology and social anthropology, and a postgraduate diploma in continuing education.
Broadcasting in Northern Ireland
Anderson began his radio career at BBC Radio Foyle in 1985, the local station in his home city which he usually called "Stroke City" to reflect the difficulty regarding broadcasting the name of Derry/Londonderry (each name is preferred by a different part of the local community, Derry by Catholics/Nationalists, Londonderry by Protestants/Unionists). Starting with Making the Tea, on with music but then also moving on to talk shows. His programme was picked up by BBC Radio Ulster and given a wider audience. The Gerry Anderson Show was broadcast daily on BBC Radio Ulster from 10:30 am to 11:55 am, and calls made to the show form the basis of BBC NI's animated TV comedy series On The Air. Show regulars included Geordie Tuft a farmer from Loughbrickland, who offered advice to listeners on matters regarding farm animals (particularly goats), using Jeyes Fluid as a shampoo for dogs, and how to "dung out a bed".
Anderson was also instrumental in helping to launch the radio career of Paul McLoone, the frontman with the Northern Irish pop-punk group The Undertones and subsequently a radio presenter with the Irish national independent radio station, Today FM.
On the BBC Radio Ulster show, referring to his earlier career in music, he claimed to have met Elvis Presley and toured with Kris Kristofferson. His co-presenter on the show was Sean Coyle who has his own Wee Show on BBC Radio Foyle. In addition, Anderson presented various television series for BBC Northern Ireland, including a documentary on hair-loss called Gerry Anderson's Losing It. In 2013, Anderson was also the "monumental" guest on Northern Ireland-based comedy panel show, Monumental.
His contribution to solving the Derry/Londonderry name dispute was to popularise the jocular name "Stroke City" (from the "/" in the city's neutral designation), which became the title of one of his radio programmes from 1992 leading some of his friends to rename him "Gerry/Londongerry". The programmes were broadcast nationally on Radio 4.
In 1994, BBC Radio 4 contracted the broadcaster to present an afternoon magazine programme running from 3 to 4 pm. The audience reaction to Anderson Country was polarised with listeners divided over its shift in tone from the rest of Radio 4. After a year Anderson Country was dropped, although the programme continued as The Afternoon Shift for another three years presented by Laurie Taylor and Daire Brehan. Anderson returned to Northern Ireland where he remained popular, sometimes presenting television as well as radio, and continued to make new programmes for Radio 4 such as Gerry's Bar.