Sir Geoff Hurst remembers his 1966 teammates with fondness

Sir Geoff Hurst: “People still talk about the World Cup, where they were on that day.”

Jump to

Sir Geoff Hurst is hanging his hopes on England this year

Sir Geoff Hurst is hanging his hopes on England this year

With the Euro Final only weeks away, England aren’t looking like they’re going to bring football home any time soon. If you were in the changing room before the next match, what would you say to the team?

I’d have a bit of a go at them. I’d have a bit of a dig. I’d say, ‘Come on, for God’s sake. It’s about time you lot won something.

That’s the kind of attitude I’d have. I’d say, ‘Look, there are some fantastic players in this dressing room. Let’s get out there and win it. You’re capable of it. For Goodness’ sake, do it for the country.’ 

The country could do with a bit of a morale boost. What impact do you think winning the tournament would have?

It would have a massively positive effect. We saw that at the time we won it. People still talk about the World Cup, where were they on the day, who they were with, even today.

It has a fantastic morale lifting effect on the whole country when we’re successful in any sport, and particularly football as it’s the biggest sport.

Do you still love talking about 1966, 58 years later?

I never fail to stop talking about it or think I’m fed up talking about it, not for a second. It’s something that you grow up and live with.

That day changed my life to a great extent and particularly more so, now that I’m the last one of that fantastic group of players.

When you lifted the trophy at Wembley on July 30th, 1966, did you ever imagine that you’d outlive the rest of the team?

Well, firstly, I think losing all my teammates and being the last man standing fills me with a great deal of sadness. Every clip or photograph of all of us or some of us makes me very, very sad. 

I think there’s an element of luck and it’s a lottery how old you get. I’m still not the oldest player.

A few players in the side were older than me when they died: Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Banksy, so that I’m not the oldest yet. I’ve still got a few years to go before I become the oldest player.

Sir Geoff Hurst remembers his 1966 teammates with fondness

Sir Geoff Hurst remembers his 1966 teammates with fondness

You looked a decade younger than your 82 years when you stepped out on the Wembley pitch for England’s match against Iceland. What’s your secret?

There’s an element of lottery in it, but I think we all realise what we should try and do as humans, quite obviously exercise. I continue to do that and also eat fairly sensibly.

Those are the two major things that we all know we should be doing. I don’t eat out a lot. My wife enjoys cooking, and she cooks stuff that’s sensible and healthy, and I exercise every day, I’ve still got routine every day.

Several of your 1966 teammates, including Bobby Charlton who passed away last October, died from dementia probably not helped by heading the heavy balls used during that era. Are you monitoring your own brain health and how are you right now?

Well, I’m talking to you and realising who you are so I’m obviously okay to take a phone call, which I would struggle with if I wasn’t OK. So no, I’m not monitored or tested at all. 

What are your thoughts on football’s links to dementia?

It’s such a complicated issue. Some people talk about heading a ball, as an issue, which may well be true, but there are people who get dementia who have never headed a football in their life, so it’s a bit more complicated. 

Are you aware of the research being done on the issue?

I am. There have been some surveys. Professor Willie Stewart up in Scotland, has said that professional players are three and a half times more likely to get dementia than anybody in the street, but I know people who have never been near a football or any knocks and bangs who have dementia, so it’s a very complicated issue and there’s an element of lottery when it comes to it.

Many dementia scientists believe that diet, exercise, human connection and learning new skills are pivotal towards protecting brain health and reducing the risk of developing dementia. Are you following that advice personally?

Most of it but I’m not sure about the next skills bit but I’m aware that it’s important to keep doing things that keep you occupied.

My main hobby is just doing the odd after dinner speech so organising my travel and accommodation keeps my brain occupied.

Sir Geoff hopes he'll be toasting an England victory!

Sir Geoff hopes he'll be toasting an England victory!

If Harry Kane does finally break his trophy drought and lift the European Championship on July 14th, how will you be celebrating?

One or two negative people say I don’t want us to win a trophy again because I was in the team that did it last, which, is of course, absolute nonsense. 

Nobody understands better than me and feels as I do, having been involved with a great bunch of players, that have actually won it. 

I understand. And I’m as big an England fan as there is around, so I will be as happy as anybody in the country. Happier than most if we were to do it again.

Geoff Hurst is backing Budweiser’s Bring It Home campaign. To watch his Euros 2024 visit Bring It Home | Budweiser and Sir Geoff Hurst (youtube.com)

Ken Bruce Greatest Hits Radio

Ken Bruce: Radio star says: “I’m at that kind of age where nothing could go that wrong.”

Jump to

Born in Glasgow in 1951, Ken Bruce joined BBC Radio Scotland as a continuity announcer in 1977 and presented his final mid-morning show – including his iconic music quiz segment PopMaster – on Radio 2 on 3rd March 2023. Divorced twice and a father of six, he lives with his third wife Kerith Coldham in Buckinghamshire.

Ken Bruce Greatest Hits Radio

Ken Bruce Greatest Hits Radio

Changing jobs aged 71 can be daunting for many people, but you seem to have embraced the shift wholeheartedly…

I have to say it’s gone, really, really well so far, and being at Greatest Hits Radio feels like a home from home already. It feels as if I’ve been there for years and years and years. It’s very comfortable.

How different is it working there to working at the BBC?

I’m doing much the same kind of programme; the same kind of thing as I was doing before, but it’s in a different place, with a different audience and a slightly different style of doing things, but it’s gone really well and I’m entirely happy.

BBC broadcasting legend Ken Bruce

Ken is a BBC broadcasting legend

How anxious were you about leaving the BBC after 46 years there in total?

It actually didn’t worry me that much at all, because I was going to be doing the same sort of thing. And to be honest, I’m at that kind of age where nothing could go that wrong.

It’s not like when you’re 40 and you make one false move and throw your entire career away. If it had all gone completely wrong, too bad. It doesn’t matter. I’ve had a good life and a good career but the fact that seems to have gone smoothly, and everybody’s been happy with it – and I’m happy – that’s the main thing. 

Since you’ve been at Greatest Hits Radio you’ve interviewed an incredible selection of huge stars including Cher, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, Boy George, Jason Donovan and Elton John. Who have you must enjoyed quizzing?

Sometimes with younger artists their day-to-day schedules are such a whirlwind that they haven’t really done much with their lives. They’re always pleasant but you don’t always get an awful lot in the interview, but the bigger more established stars know what they’re doing and want to give you something.

They’re generous with their time and they’ve lived a life and none more so than Elton John, who is a wonderful man to talk to.

Ken received a MBE in 2023

Ken received a MBE in 2023

Five decades is a long time to survive in any industry. What’s the secret of your longevity?

If I knew that I would have been planning for that a long time ago. I have no idea why or why what I do has remained in some way useful or popular. I just know it does seem to work. So, I don’t change it.

Your son Murray is autistic and you’re quite active in raising awareness of the condition. Tell us about some of the events you get involved with…

Well yesterday I hosted an awards ceremony for a charity called Dimensions. It’s for people with disabilities – either learning disabilities or any kind of disability – who are going out in the community and doing inspirational things for other disabled people and helping them, but also demonstrating that it’s possible to do great things even though you have some disadvantages and also possible to still make a useful contribution to society.

It’s really a heart-warming thing to be able to do and they are fantastic people. Everybody is so impressive.

 

PopMaster Ken Bruce

PopMaster Ken

And tell us about the documentary you made last year with Chris Packham. Has autism awareness increased recently compared to how it used to be?

It was called Inside Our Autistic Minds, and it was a fantastic project to get involved with and afterwards we had lots of people saying they were inspired by watching what we were doing.

It’s a constant fight but I’m passionate about demonstrating that everybody – whatever challenges they might face in life – has something to offer.

Most 73-year-olds are happy to put their feet up. Why do you keep working?

My job is fun to do. I get to play music and to listen to some very good music and I get to enjoy myself. It’s a dialogue everyday with somebody at home and it’s something that enhances me and at the end of every day I feel better for it, so as long as that continues, I’ll carry on doing it.

  • The new series of PopMaster stars on More4 in June.

 

Don Warrington Actor

Don Warrington: Trailblazer says “We can call it getting older, or we can call it getting wiser.”

Jump to

Don Warrington Actor

Don Warrington Actor

Born in Trinidad, Don Warrington moved to England as a child and grew up in Newcastle Upon Tyne. His first role was in Rising Damp in 1974 and since then he’s appeared in a host of iconic shows including Red Dwarf, Hamlet, Doctor Who, Waking the Dead and since 2011, Death in Paradise. He lives in London with his wife Mary Maddocks.

You’re an ambassador for Age UK. How has your attitude towards ageing changed as you’ve got older?

People have a strange attitude towards age. Age is just how you feel. We have things in our heads about what you should be doing at what stage in your life, but I don’t believe in any of that. We live in the moment.

Have you always felt like that?

Until very recently, I felt as though I was 22 or 23. My feelings hadn’t changed particularly. It’s only when I try to do something, I realise that I’m not 22, but until then, I think, ‘well, anything’s possible.’ It’s possible to do more things than we think. I know we change physically but a lot of it is in our heads.

How do you maintain such a healthy mindset?

I try to keep myself fit. I like to stretch. I like to be in my body. You have to use it, or it breaks down. If you use it, you get more out of it than if you don’t. I do Pilates which I like because I think it’s attuned to the body.

It teaches you to listen to it and to know what to do and what not to do. You have to learn about what is not good for you and something like Pilates teaches you that. It’s not manic. It’s about listening to your body, and we need to be attuned to how we are physically.

Don as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson.

Don as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson.

How important has your positive mindset been towards your career longevity?

I love working so there’s no reason to stop. It’s stimulating. It’s how you meet new people. It’s good to wake up in the morning and think, ‘I’m going to work now.’

Are you as raring to go professionally as you’ve always been?

I don’t know if I would describe myself as raring to go, but I go. I go at my pace. I’m excited about what I’m doing. I’m excited about new projects and excited to be working with people who I haven’t worked with before. Going to work is a discovery. It’s still a learning process.

You starred in Rising Damp 50 years ago and you’re still going strong. What’s your secret?

I think luck plays a big part in all of this. And staying healthy. And to pay attention. That’s the secret really. Look at where you are. Look at what you’re being asked to do and try to do it to the best of your ability.

We don’t know what’s around the corner. Sometimes there’s something there for you and sometimes there isn’t so I think all one can be is prepared.

Don with the Death In Paradise Cast

Don with the Death In Paradise Cast

You’ve co-starred with some huge names over the decades. Who has been the most inspirational?

Leonard Rossiter, Frances de la Tour and Richard Beckinsale from Rising Damp as that was my first real job on television and they were such incredible people to go to work with. It was like going to school and they were my teachers.

You also received an MBA from Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 at Buckingham Palace. Did she share any words of wisdom on ageing gracefully?

What was fascinating was that when I met her there was somebody standing behind her leaning and whispering into her ear.

When she was talking to me, she had no idea who I was, but she knew that she had to perform this duty. And she did very charmingly, but it made me smile because inside I thought, ‘Ma’am, you didn’t know who I am. And you don’t know why you’re doing this.’

So, she didn’t say, ‘I thought you were fantastic in episode two, series three of Rising Damp?’

No, she did not. I got the award for my theatre work, but it was lovely to meet her, and she has a wonderful way of getting you. She shakes your hand, she gives it a little nudge, which says, ‘time to leave now.’

You’ve always had a wry sense of humour. How important is to maintain that as you get older?

I think one has to find the comic side of life. There’s so much going on in the world that’s unpleasant that if one can find humour wherever one can, that’s very good. I think it gives you a kind of balance in your step. A lot of life is funny.

What makes you laugh?

People particularly. People do extraordinary things. What I find amusing a lot of the time is what people take incredibly, seriously.

They tend to make me laugh, because there’s a kind of absurdity to it. You get through to more people if you lighten up a bit. If you find the charm in what’s going on, people tend to respond more favourably.

Don Warrington

Don on ageing well and getting wiser

Rather than losing skills ageing can be a golden period for gaining skills. Which skills have you gained with age?

I’ve learned to be braver. As a young person, there was a lot of fear in what I did and how I behaved. We can call it getting older, or we can call it getting wiser.

I’m less afraid, which is a good thing, because without fear comes freedom. I’m acquiring, like kind of freedom to do things that other people might see as risky, but I don’t particularly. Being braver means you’re not limiting yourself. You’re not allowing the age that you have become to dictate what you do. I want to be a very young old man.

Spending a sizeable chunk of each year in Guadeloupe filming Death in Paradise can’t be bad for your psyche either…

It does help. It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful, beautiful island but it does get very, very hot and you’re exposed to nature in a way that you’re not getting. Nature is active. It’s there. It’s happening. And it’s fantastically noisy. It keeps your feet on the ground.

Another way you keep your feet on the ground is by playing the saxophone…

That’s right.

Can you do the sax solo from Careless Whisper or Baker Street?

I could if I wanted to. I tend to play a bit of jazz or a bit of blues.

Can we look forward to a saxophone scene in Catherine’s Bar in the next series of Death in Paradise?

No, no, no. Sometimes we have things that we enjoy doing privately. I gives me immense pleasure but I’m not sure it gives people listening much pleasure, but I don’t care.

  • The latest series of Death in Paradise is on iPlayer now.
Louise Minchin, former BBC Breakfast Presenter and Author

Louise Minchin: Former BBC TV presenter says “You can still do amazing things as you get older.”

Jump to

Born in Hong Kong in 1968, Louise Minchin started her career on the BBC’s World Service before graduating to Radio 5 Live’s Drive and Breakfast shows. She eventually became the full-time co-host of Breakfast on BBC1 in 2011. Since leaving the programme in 2021 she’s appeared on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and has taken up endurance sport. She has two daughters with her husband David and lives in Cheshire.

Louise Minchin, former BBC Breakfast Presenter and Author

Louise Minchin, former BBC Breakfast Presenter and Author

You turned 55 on your last birthday. How does it feel to now be closer to 60 than 50?

I feel that 55 is a good age. Fifty felt kind of significant; so significant that I tried to ignore it, but 55 I’m like, ‘Now I get it. I’m happy with it. And I’m trying not to think about that close to 60 thing.

How is ageing impacting you psychologically and emotionally?

Personally, as I’ve got older, I feel more confident. At 55 I think, ‘know what, I’ve made it here. I’ve not done everything brilliantly but for the next few years, I’d like to do them better. I feel like I want to do stuff well from now on and to do things that make a difference to other people, rather than me. It feels like it’s less about me now.

Physically how are you feeling?

I take my physical health much more seriously.  I think it’s really important to invest in your physical health, and by that, I mean strength really. Going forward, I want to be a person that is able to keep moving and to keep doing things. I don’t want to get to a point where I am a burden on other people.

Have your parents inspired your attitude towards good health?

Yes. I want to be like them. Dad’s 81 and he still works, and he still runs for the bus and my mum, who is approaching 80, does Pilates. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to make sure that we really look after ourselves now because I think you can lose that vitality and it’s really important not to.

How important is mental health to vitality in later life?

It’s pivotal. If you are engaged with something – whatever it is reading the news or playing bridge like my mother, just keeping your brain active is going to make you feel younger and make you enjoy life more. 

Presumably no longer getting up in the middle of the night to present BBC Breakfast has also been good for your health?

It wasn’t until I left in 2021 that I realised what a huge impact getting up at 3.46am on and off for 20 years was having on my physical health. I had an inkling, but I didn’t realise how deep the roots were. I was constantly exhausted, and I didn’t realise until I left, how exhausted I was. It’s taken me until only recently to catch up on all those years of missed sleep and the strangest thing is that I’ve never been a morning person. I’m a night owl.

Louise talking about her book, Fearless

Louise talking about her book, Fearless. Photo credit Instagram @louiseminchin

You’ve spoken quite a bit about your struggle with the menopause. How challenging was that period?

I genuinely thought I had some sort of early onset dementia because I was forgetting so much and doing things like putting my keys in the fridge and I was waking up two or three times a night with night sweats. Can you imagine having hot flushes in front of six million people? It was horrific.

The worst moment was when I was interviewing George Osbourne, and he was standing outside a JCB factory, and I just couldn’t say the letters JCB in the right order. I said any combination of the letters but not JCB. It was total brain fog and discombobulation, and I was mortified.

How did you get through it?

HRT changed my life and it’s also been great for several long-term health conditions such as heart disease, bone health and helping with Alzheimer’s.

Louise's book, Fearless Adventures with Extraordinary Women

Louise's book, Fearless Adventures with Extraordinary Women

Post menopause, are you feeling healthier, more focussed and more optimistic?

Totally. I feel good. I feel liberated. I feel stronger, better and now I’ve come out of the other side I feel empowered.

Most people reduce their physical exercise as they age but you’ve done the reverse…

I started my sporting journey aged 45 which I know is not when most people start and that’s what my book is about; exploring the stories of older women who’ve physically embraced ageing like Mimi Anderson, who is a grandmother who has just done an extraordinary 4400km bike ride from Turin to the North Cape of South Africa.

You can still do amazing things as you get older, and I also think that we’re lucky because you can make different choices when you’re older if perhaps you don’t have to work as much. If you’re retired that can be a license to do more adventurous stuff.

 

What’s your message to people who think age is a barrier to sport?

It doesn’t need to be. There are so many people who have taken up sport in later life and really enjoyed it, whether it’s swimming, doing the Three Peaks walk or even weightlifting, which I took up last year. I’m really proud of not what my body looks like, but what it can do.  I’m just really proud of what my 55-year-old body can do and hopefully it can continue, but you have to invest in it.

Has your happiness increased as you’ve got older?

My 55th birthday was one of my happiest birthdays ever. I spent time with my family. We went out for drinks and dinner and 55 feels like a good age and an age to sort of take a little bit of stock. I’ve had lots of different experiences both in broadcasting and in sport as well so it’s about working out how do I use those going forward?

Your two daughters are in their twenties. How are you feeling about potential impending grandparenthood?

I’m going to love grandparenthood because you can give them back can’t you! My two daughters have been the great joy of my life, so becoming a grandmother would be super exciting and that’s one of the reasons I’m so focussed on staying strong and fit so I can appreciate what’s to come.

  • Fearless Adventures with Extraordinary Women is out now, published by Bloomsbury.

 

Toyah Willcox

Toyah Willcox: Singing star says “Every human being, whatever their age, still has potential.”

Jump to

Born in Birmingham in 1958 with a spinal condition and a clubbed foot, multi-talented performer Toyah Willcox burst onto the entertainment scene in the late 1970s. As well as releasing over 20 albums and having eight top 40 singles, she’s appeared in 40 stage plays, 10 feature films – including Quadrophenia – and also narrated the globally popular children’s TV series Teletubbies. She lives in Dorset with her 77-year-old musician husband Robert Fripp.

Toyah Willcox

Toyah Willcox has had a successful career in entertainment

You’re as busy today as you were 40 years ago. Do you never feel like slowing down?

I’m still very, very happy working. And I’ve always felt as a woman every decade we reach is a completely different human being. It’s important to keep working through these decades, otherwise we will disappear, and we will be stereotyped. I’m 66  this month so I find it very important to show you can have a healthy elderly middle age upwards.

What’s the best thing about getting older?

Your perspective is far clearer. And things that would have upset me when I was younger, just don’t even touch me now.

As you get older do you increasingly appreciate the brevity of life?

Yes. Time is very precious, and I think knowing the limitations of time makes you spend your time really wisely.

Toyah Wilcox

Toyah, still a passionate performer

How strong is your, ‘making the most of it,’ mentality?

I have exactly the same drive now that I had when I was 16, 17 and 18, but I’m very realistic that the world moves on. The younger generations definitely move on without you. And they have to. They are building a future. They’re building our future.

They’re building their lives, but I believe every single human being on this planet, whatever their age, still has potential so what I’m trying to do is to be potential appropriate because there’s really no point in me thinking, ‘I’m going to go on Top of the Pops or do some rave. I’ve got to be potential appropriate and not waste my time on old ambitions.

Are you as passionate about performing now as you were at the start of your career?

I’m equally passionate, but I love change. I really love variety. So, I find that if I go into a new genre, or I go into a new project, it just invigorates absolutely every cell in my body.

So yeah, I’m very passionate about my work. I love my work, and I’m very passionate about my audience. I like my audience to see me breaking new territory.

Toyah

Toyah has a new single coming out in summer

What are your ambitions for the future?

I’ve got three books on the go. I’ve got a new single coming out over the summer. There are some fantastic acting roles coming in. As I get older, I will do more and more acting because the singing won’t go on forever as you do start to feel a bit vulnerable in certain workplaces.

How important to you is it to acknowledge your mortality and to prepare those left behind for the eventuality.

The one thing my parents could not talk about was their mortality. When Dad had a stroke, he was put on the Liverpool care pathway.

There was some consciousness about it all the way to when he died, six days later, where he was starved, he had no water, no painkillers.

He had a really bad death, but he never ever talked about what he wanted, how he wanted to be buried, or how he wanted to be treated so we were all running around completely second guessing how to behave because the dialogue had never been had.

Need help organising your estate?

Estate planning for later life

Presumably you’ve taken a lesson from that experience?

We’ve all written wills, and we’ve all made plans. I think it makes life better. Funerals for the people who are still here. I don’t think they’re for the people who pass. As soon as you pass, you move straight into the next process, and I think it’s really important that we leave instructions.

Becoming successful is a huge challenge but maintaining that success over decades as you have done is an even tougher task. How have you maintained your popularity over so many decades?

My work is like no one else’s work. It is unique. I’ve not, I’m not copying anyone. I’m toying. And I’ve always worked really hard for Toyah. And now young people – through my Sunday Lunch series on YouTube – have discovered me for the first time as well.

Reflection and mental rest are pivotal to maintaining good health as you get older. How do you relax?

I love walking. I adore walking and there’s places I can go in Cornwall where I can disappear.

Toyah Willcox is performing at the Let’s Rock festival this summer. For tickets visit www.letsrock80s.com