Philippe Bouvard, pillar of RTL and father of “Grosses têtes”, announces his retirement at 94

Philippe Bouvard, pillar of RTL and father of “Grosses têtes”, announces his retirement at 94
Philippe Bouvard, pillar of RTL and father of “Grosses têtes”, announces his retirement at 94

Host Philippe Bouvard announces that he will retire on January 1, 2025, after 60 years of career at RTL.

Retirement soon for Philippe Bouvard: the tireless 94-year-old journalist, who still writes a weekly column on RTL, announced on Sunday that he would cut the microphone in January, on the occasion of his sixtieth anniversary on the air, ” a world record,” according to the station.

“There is a temptation, which is not a temptation of laziness, but a temptation of record, it is to go until January 1st, it will not be bad enough, and then to listen to the others and to be silent”, explained Philippe Bouvard on Sunday on RTL, in reference to the retirement that he refused for a long time.

“Because on January 1, I will have established the double record that I hoped for, that is to say 60 years of radio and 60 years of RTL” justified the one who started in 1965 at Radio Luxembourg, which became RTL in 1966, before launching The Big Heads in 1977 and made it the most listened to program in France.

“I would really like to have this one (this record, editor’s note), because, I won’t hide it from you, I really liked the radio, and the radio gave it back to me,” added the journalist who looks back on moments that forged his career in “Les portraits de Philippe Bouvard”, Sundays at 6:40 a.m. on RTL.

Journalist and public entertainer with The Big HeadsPhilippe Bouvard accompanied the French for 60 years on the radio before announcing a retirement which he refused for a long time.

“A heartbreak”

A pillar of RTL where he has worked since the 1960s, his name remains attached to that of Big headsmaking it one of the most listened to in France.

When in September 2014, after 37 years at the helm, he had to give up his place to Laurent Ruquier, called to rejuvenate the show, Bouvard, close to 85 years old, took it badly.

“It was not me who made the decision (to stop) but I accepted it. The announcement of this abandonment, because it is one, is heartbreaking,” he declared at the time.

Eight years later, the wound poorly closed, he confided that he would have been incapable of stopping on his own. The Big Heads. The station then told him Hello Bouvardbroadcast on weekends, which ended in summer 2020.

Tireless and always up to date with current events, despite his failing eyesight and hearing, at the age of 94 he still has a page in the VSD magazine, as well as a Sunday column on RTL.

Philippe Bouvard has always been hyperactive: 30,000 articles, 6,000 TV shows, he listed at the beginning of 2013 in the daily Nice Matin with which he collaborated.

On television, he presented from 1982 to 1987 The little Bouvard theater on Antenne 2, a sketch show where young comedians try their hand, several of whom will experience success (Muriel Robin, Pascal Legitimus, Mimie Mathy, Chevallier and Laspalès…).

Born on December 6, 1929 in Coulommiers (Seine-et-Marne) to a couple of small traders, Philippe Bouvard joined Le Figaro in 1952 as an errand boy, after a short stint at the Journalists’ Training Center. He climbed the ranks, signed the society column and became director of Parisian services.

Gallic humor

In 1973, he left Le Figaro for France Soir, where he held several hierarchical positions and wrote an article published on the front page for years.

He left in September 2003. During his career, he was also a technical advisor to L’Express and a columnist for Paris Match.

He became editor-in-chief at RTL in 1968 and launched “Les Grosses têtes” on April 1, 1977. His guests, personalities, had to find the answers to “sticks” posed by listeners.

As the months go by, the cultural argument gives way to Gallic humor and below-the-belt jokes. The daily show is a resounding success.

“Even if I claim a certain complacency in the register of the fly, the exercise is more perilous than it seems. In radio, a good word that comes five seconds too late is no longer a good word”, declares the one who cited Coluche, Desproges and… Cioran as his favorite comedians.

“An average Frenchman”

The man, with a round and jovial physique, mocks the taxman, rails against the contempt he says he suffers from the intelligentsia, and later concedes that he is “perhaps a little misogynistic”.

“I am and I remain an average Frenchman, grumpy, chauvinistic, a little xenophobic,” he declares, while sometimes admitting to regret “having let myself get stuck in this character,” he confided to Le Parisien in 2022.

In 1996, he was convicted of provoking racial hatred following a riddle asked during a television program of the Big heads.

In May 2000, the new management of the radio decided to rejuvenate the station and unceremoniously dismissed him, replacing him with Christophe Dechavanne. The audience collapsed and the host was recalled a few months later.

Passionate about gambling and writing, Philippe Bouvard lives on the heights of Cannes, with Colette, his wife of over 70 years, and is preparing a 70th book… on retirement.

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