Your memories of Jay

Weeping silver pear tree

A Weeping Silver Pear tree will be planted at Jay’s grave in the woodland burial area at Camberwell Old Cemetery, SE22 0SQ

As Jay’s friends and I looked for a way to reflect and remember Jay, we thought we could create a shared space where we could each contribute our memories of him. We thought this would shape a really beautiful story showing the richness of Jay’s life and the many different ways in which he connected with people. In this way our shared story would be richer and more layered – and we might all learn little more about the man we were proud to call our friend.

Please feel free to add to our story chest. Write about a particular moment or day, a regular thing you did together, or simply the moment you met him. A suggested guideline is around 200 words, but it can be as short as you like – or it could be a picture or bit of audio if you prefer.

Please send your stories to


Only a smiley face away 🙂

My overriding memory of Jay is his smile; beaming from ear to ear, always with a twinkle in his eye. We first worked together nine years ago, as researchers at the BBC, and I was immediately struck by his warmth, sensitivity, curiosity and kindness.

Over the years we’d meet up for drinks – share enthusiasms and frustrations – and I’d always return home with a smile of my own, feeling better about the world.

Looking back, Jay was always the one who made sure we kept in touch, and I took it for granted that our next catch up was a text message with a smiley face away :):). His integrity, passion, commitment to his work and his friends will always be an inspiration.

Charlotte Sacher

Where to put the table?

The big question was – where to put the table? Jay had come round to play chess. There aren’t many people I like to play chess with. Just a handful, really, the only criterion being that neither one of us always wins and with Jay that wasn’t a problem. We were well matched.

We’d met up that evening at my house to play chess and the problem was we couldn’t work out where to put the table on which we’d play. It sounds like a silly detail to start with, but I like it because it reminds me of a certain quality Jay had. He noticed the way things were in a room – among people, visually – and he wanted things to be just right before he got started. I really liked that quality. It made everyday moments more considered and somehow more lively.

Anyway, once we’d sorted out the table – we put it in the kitchen in the end – we had to get the right drinks. By then I’d got into the spirit of things and had decided the lighting wasn’t quite right, and at last we could sit down. But then we stopped to talk about things, we touched on the position he was applying for and the programme he was going to be working on soon. We talked about a moment in history and books that neither of us had ever read and exchanged stories, information, questions, all of it piling up onto the heap of the conversation – and by now his face was doing that thing. Everyone who knew Jay will remember what his face did during a conversation once he’d got into it. He was doing his animated, super-alive face, the one that urged you on and told you that whatever you were saying was fascinating, even if it was clearly not.

Only after that conversation did we get on with the chess.

We played two games. We were both concentrating so neither one of us said very much. He won the first, I won the second.

It was the first game we’d played since I’d moved into our new place just over the common from where he had started to live with Livy. Later that night, after he’d gone home, I remember thinking about what a wonderful, regular thing this was going to become in the years ahead, how it would mark the passage of time. I thought about playing chess with Jay thirty years from now, perhaps on that same table, in the same room, about how our lives would have changed and what sorts of things we’d be talking about in that catch-up before the game. I thought about all of those things that night in a happy whirl of anticipation, I cast my mind far into the future without for once thinking that so soon I’d be forced to plunge into the past.

It’s not much of a moment, my moment with Jay, it’s verging on the mundane. But I’ve always thought that this is how to get the measure of anyone. To see how they are in an ordinary moment and what they bring to it. What I loved about Jay was the extraordinary energy, the momentum and the fun he’d bring to something as throwaway, as trivial and otherwise dry as a game of chess. I really miss that about him.

Henry Hemming

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

The first time I came across Jay, I didn’t see him. Rather, I heard him.

He would come into the office of what was then the BBC World Service Trust, and I would hear him chatting to people round the corner. Regular peals of laughter would break out from him and those around him.

A few days later, he came in again. I was curious to find out more about this character, and we got talking. In Jay’s customary way, our conversation soon got onto things we were passionate about. It turned out we were both radio nerds. We started talking about our favourite documentaries and documentary-makers, excited to have found someone who spoke the same language. One day he brought in Alan Hall’s “Wise Guys.” We listened to a bit of it at my desk – and then listened to it again. And again. And a deep friendship was formed.

We started lending each other CDs with our favourite documentaries on. I played him arty, sound-based ones that I was into at the time, and Jay introduced me to the much better types of radio documentaries – the kind that he went on to make. Those with powerful characters, a compelling story, and beguiling sound.

We would have lunch together in the Bush House canteen, Jay would saunter in, his latest favourite book under his arm, and tell me in fast-paced sentences about the latest project he was working on. I’ll never forget the way his face would light up when talking about ideas or history. The “yeah yeah yeah!” when he excitedly agreed with a point you’d just made.

When I think about Jay now, that’s the image in my head – a man who had, in equal measure, curiosity, creativity and intellect. I miss him deeply.

Helena Merriman

Jay organised us all

I wanted to say that I worked with Jay on a production around five years ago. In every other production I’ve worked on, a group of people come together who then never see each other again. But on this one, Jay organised us all, and cajoled us into going out together for regular drinks. Years later, we were still going for regular reunions, with Jay at the centre. Jay had the energy and brilliance to bring people together. That is a very rare and very wonderful ability, and it will be deeply missed.

Will Yearsley

The pursuit of steak

Jay was a passionate man and a man of passions. His smile, warmth and wit meant his enthusiasms were easily shared. It was impossible not be captivated by whatever was interesting him. One particular obsession that I had the pleasure of sharing was his pursuit of the perfect steak.

There are two ways to look back on my time in Argentina with Jay. The first was that he, Olivia, Lucy and I embarked on a holiday to combine adventure, wildlife, culture and wine. The second was that he inducted us into his pursuit for the perfect steak. Jay’s natural charm meant the former morphed seamlessly into the latter and I didn’t even notice.

A familiar pattern quickly evolved. By day, we explored a fascinating country: in Buenos Aires we saw spectacular tango, Mendoza gave us wonderful wine and we drank hot chocolate that felt like liquid gold in Bariloche. By night, we roamed the restaurants.

As we settled for dinner, early conversation would be laced with expectation. Stories of meat-based nostalgia would be shared around the table. Menus would be hotly debated only to needlessly confirm that, yes, we would indeed order steak.

When the meal arrived, Jay’s verdict would set the tone for the evening. A good steak meant the night would begin with a bang: conversation would flow and another cork would be popped. A bad steak would prompt a brief period of introspection, but plans for future steaks would quickly be made and another cork would be popped. Regardless, Jay would effuse throughout.

We never did find the perfect steak. But deep down I don’t think we wanted to. After all, if we had then our quest would have had to end.

Cerys Morgan

The world is a poorer place without him

Jay recorded the sound for a piece we made on the Twic Olympics in what is now South Sudan. I can’t quite remember the date of the project, but I think it was around 2010/11. It was one of our early experiments with audio slideshows to tell stories in a different way and I think Jay delivered fabulously on the brief from us. I remember Jay smiling away as we talked about the project, happy to deal with the ambiguity that always comes with a new project and the ever-present challenges of documenting work in a developing country. I only met him a few times but his professionalism, humility and warm heart stick in my memory. The world is a poorer place without him.

Steven Buckley
Head of Communications
Christian Aid

Cherishing the memories

This is such sad news. But I prepared myself for it and am now cherishing the memories of such a wonderfully amazing human being.

We talked a lot in the time we worked on Mixed Britannia. We talked about him, you, him and you. His plans for his future with you. His love for you. Like you I feel blessed to have met Jay Mukoro.

I lost my mother unexpectedly last year. Jay was such a comfort firstly because he had had to deal with the loss of a parent as well. Secondly because of his calming influence that helped me. Funnily enough I was working with a director recently who Jay was also supportive to.

I believe in death not being the end so I continue to speak to the departed through prayer.

God bless you and the rest of Jay’s family.


The Spirit of ‘Friar Tuck’

He has outsoared the shadow of our night
Envy and calumny and hate and pain
And that unrest which men miscall delight
Can touch him not and torture not again…

P.B. Shelly, Adonais

Jay Mukuro and I were part of a group of very close friends in our late twenties who came together in south London in the mid-90s. As part of our bonding ritual, we adopted the names of various characters in western literature and were notorious for our bohemian approach to black identity. We five became ‘the tribe’; myself, John Sisay, Ekow Esuman, Gary Williams and Jay Mukuro.

In our tribe, Jay was every bit as merry and as kindly as the gentle Friar Tuck. Our hang-outs were Goldsmiths college in New Cross Gate – where two of us graduated – and in Brockley and Forest Hill where three of us lived. We lived for music. Of the five of us, Jay was the least extroverted, but not when he was doing one of his slick impressions of James Brown. We were avid collectors of rare vinyl and Jay was known for his fondness for funk and Afro-beat.

Curiously, the same global forces that had brought us together in the UK repatriated us to our respective origins in Britain’s former colonies: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, Ghana, and Ethiopia. I am writing this from Ethiopia, where I recently discovered on-line that John Sisay is CEO of a large mining concern in Freetown.

Apart from finding John on Google and the distressing news of Jay’s departure, I haven’t the faintest idea of what became of the others, but what I do know is that Jay was very close to his late mother and bore her passing away in great grief. I can still hear his mother’s incessant calling in her thick Nigerian accent: J-A-Y! It would seem her persistence paid off – for now he holds her hand in heaven – bound to her in blessed eternity.

Kofi Ababio
August 2014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A black man in Arundel

My husband and I met Jay for the first time just days before he was to marry Olivia. It was a perfect English summer’s day in the historic town of Arundel.

As enjoyable as the festive atmosphere was, what I enjoyed most was our serious discussions about, among other things, race: A man came up to us, so excited he might as well have been jumping up licking our faces and wagging his tail because… there was a black man in Arundel! He asked to take a photo of us representing ‘Multicultural Arundel’. We acquiesced rather dazedly and then instantly regretted it – because a heartbeat-of-a-thought later, we considered the fact that unfortunately Arundel is not in the slightest multicultural. Jay was utterly unfazed which I felt was not just because this was sadly familiar to him but because of his gracious spirit.

What we remember of Jay was a warm, funny, open, intellectually stimulating man and he was the perfect life partner for Olivia. We didn’t know Jay well but because of the impact he made on us that day, and the few other times we saw him thereafter, we miss him. I felt I had so much to learn from him.

Penny Montford and Amjad Rihan

The lovely smiley man

When Frankell and I first met Jay in a group dinner we talked about him as “The lovely smiley man”. Whenever I think of him the image that instantly comes to mind is Jay’s beaming smile. Jay consistently brought this smile, his graciousness, openess and warmth to a gathering.

Also a dab hand at mixing tracks, DJ Jay gave a great party for little, big and kool kids alike. I will always remember him at New Year’s Eve DJing with Paul while little Soli and Sophie had disco fever on the dance floor. My last but endearing memory of Jay is at Liv and Jay’s wedding party dancing with him with his mask on making crazy funky moves.

Thank you Jay for being a beam of light in our lives.

Georgina Tan

The Salad King

The first time we met Jay was when he came along to our “Welcome Mike to London” BBQ in Streatham in 2009. We can remember him chatting away to everyone confidently and his big beaming friendly smile. After he left people were commenting on how nice he was and even from that point we felt proud to call him our friend. He had brought a salad along and for some reason we can remember clearly him leaving his salad bowl behind. This became pertinent as during the many happy DVD club dinners to follow Jay became somewhat known as the “Salad King”. He’d always create the most innovative salads bursting with flavour which far outshone our standard lettuce and tomato ensemble. To us this seemed to be Jay though, in everything he did he put passion and creativity – always striving for the best. We later too left our salad bowl at Jay and Liv’s place one evening – secretly hoping it would be returned one day filled with one of Jay’s flavoursome salads.

Another thing we always admired about Jay was how he was constantly expanding his mind with knowledge and our minds along with it as he enthusiastically shared his facts/stories with us. He was someone we respected deeply and spoke of in such high regard. We miss his beaming smile and infectious laugh that seemed to fill the room whenever he entered.

Louise Tite

Richer for mixing cultures

The first time I met Jay, it was in my hall of residence’s kitchen when we were both students at Goldsmiths College. I lived above Iceland in New Cross Gate and my housemate Will was in the same radio course as Jay. He had brought him over for lunch.

I remember he introduced himself saying that although he was born in England, his parents were from Nigeria and he related with black culture from around the world and he felt richer for that.

He also commented on the fact that London is famous for mixing races and cultures but in fact those communities were living side by side and not actually mixing. It was 11 years ago and I was new to London, I have come to agree with him. Apart for a few exceptions, his example for instance, communities seem to stick to their own.

At some point, it transpired that he loved movies, I think he was talking about an obscure festival that sounded really interesting. He even got the flyer out. I said I loved movies too and we agreed to go to the cinema one day. We swapped numbers, we stayed friends.

Adrienne Doyard

A great person to come to for advice

Jay has always been a great person to come to for advice. He cared, he was generous and he always had something to say that made things clearer and more constructive.

He is the reason why I have a career in TV and I always carry with me the bits of wisdom he gave me along the way.

He said things like: “If you want to work in TV, you need to know what TV you like and do your best to work on those programmes.”

It may sound silly but in a world that can be daunting, it gave me a thread to follow. Now when someone tells me they want to work in this field, I always make sure I share with them Jay’s advice.

Once I was moaning because someone I knew had moved up quicker than I had and I was feeling rubbish, he retorted: “Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind. It is good to take both with a pinch of salt.” (I am using quotation marks here but I am completely paraphrasing, I hope you don’t mind.)

Finally, last time I was in touch with him, he said he wasn’t sure anyone deserves anything but we all need luck and good fortune although it would be nice if it was spread a bit more evenly.

Although he said this about deserving things, he was one of the most conscientious people I know, giving his best to achieve his and others’ happiness.

Personally I find enraging that he ran out of luck so abruptly but his precious advices will always stay with me and I am grateful for that. I hope they can be helpful to others too.

Adrienne Doyard
London, 14th September 2014

Working with Jay at Nutopia TV

Working with Jay as his fellow associate producer at Nutopia on a National Geographic Channel series – a history of the 1990’s. We both seek out contributors and stories for the series, and I am regularly impressed by his dedication in finding key contributors, spending long and often anti-social hours chasing Americans over the phone on stories like the Waco tragedy or the Oklahoma bombing. We both share plans about how to become producers in the coming 12 months and Jay’s quiet determination stands him in good stead as he carves out time in the edit suite to produce some of the stories for the series.

Despite the occasionally onerous workload, Jay is rarely stressed and his relaxed good humour is always in evidence. We all have a wee chuckle with Jay as he wears his woollen beanie hat in the office even in summer. To be fair he and I are right under an air-con unit and it is bloody freezing.

During this time Jay gets married, and often talks with open and inspiring love for Olivia his new wife and their plans for the future. It is both humbling and challenging (in the best sense) to be around such positivity. We also discover several mutual friends and professional connections, as well as a shared love of similar music. I often wonder that I had not met Jay before. I resolve to get him and Olivia round for dinner but never get round to it much to my deep, deep regret.

Calum Walker

An effortless way of connecting

I was introduced to Jay in the first months of his relationship with Olivia. Jay was the only man among us close girlfriends that day and I was struck by how easily he chatted and the conversation flowed. His warm personality, infectious smile and seemingly effortless way of connecting made a real impression on us – he put it down to having grown up with sisters. It was easy to see how much it meant for him to make a good impression with Olivia’s friends, and I left with a good feeling at how at ease they were with each other and us.

As time went on, I got to know more about him, his love of journalism and his ability to talk about serious issues with light and humour. Jay was exceptionally generous socially, going out of his way to give space and acknowledge other’s achievements and was very modest about his own. As busy as life was with work, travel, moving house, planning his engagement, getting married, etc. he still remembered I had talked about some writing I had been doing and offered to help, while hosting a New Year’s Eve party, finding the right music to play and generally making sure he had the chance to talk to everyone. I will long remember the great parties Jay and Olivia shared and hosted together, with genuine warmth, loving friendship, generous food, wine, music and dancing.


A true supermensch

Jay Mukoro – what an amazing student, what a lovely human being, what a glorious true friend in the fellowship and spirit of mankind, a true supermensch.

So this is now my 25th year at Goldsmiths, University of London in my capacity as a radio teacher. Jay came to Goldsmiths as a super-qualified and educated guy who wanted practice and confidence in the art of making good programmes.

The BBC had already earmarked him for a bursary and most flatteringly suggested he popped into New Cross as the right match of course provider.

He always seemed to have a genuine smile, and an understanding chuckle that appreciated that on occasion even the crooked of the world had something to say and appreciate.

As a student – what can I say? He was sublime, quality, committed and professional. All I had to do was not get in the way, but there was more to this. Jay always asked for what he needed with humility and commitment. He was a joy for any teacher or university lecturer.

So another MA for Jay was a foregone conclusion and truly deserved at distinction standard, but there was more to come.

He was a guy who wanted to put something back in. Could he mentor next year’s students and those who came afterwards? Would they like a copy of the course books? He didn’t even ask or seek a second-hand stipend.

Jay would return and give you a sense that being a radio tutor at Goldsmiths was more than thank you sir/maam it’s all over now and I’m on my way. Don’t call me I’ll call you.

“Hey Tim, fancy a coffee?” would be the message every summer. And I would sit back and listen to how he pursued his ambitions and opportunities, mentored by really good people at the BBC, producing the most amazingly impressive BBC national and World Service radio programmes, making innovative and enlightening multimedia features in Africa.

Another summer he said: “I think it would be interesting to cover the US presidential elections. Any advice or ideas?” I was the person flattered. Did I offer anything useful? It doesn’t matter. Jay asked and listened and I said something. The year the United States elected its first black president: now that is, let me just emphasise is, is and was, was history. Jay was there. He is a person who, to blend or morph the famous words of Barack Obama, can and could. Please just remember that, but think of it in an elegant, understated, non-ostentatious way. There was no shouting or yelling. In radio at Goldsmiths we are a sound medium.

In 2014 Jay came to us again and was the most brilliant and successful practice media teacher I have ever observed in Higher Education. I might be somebody over-prone to superlatives, but that side of the story can be told by the students he taught.

I want to remember summer 2008. Jay came to say hello again. I had been put in a lovely temporary office in a kind of garden situation at Goldsmiths … converted student accommodation with trees, grass and flowers outside … a railway line and train sounds. For some reason I had a small bottle of Rioja to share (probably donated by a long-suffering but grateful former student). Jay talked about assistant producing and directing in television documentary. He had been in the team for Andrew Marr’s very impressive series ‘History of Modern Britain.’ Jay was inspired, energised, full of ambition, experience and confidence. I remembered the sun streaming into the office, the mid summer bird song outside, and a glow of happiness on Jay’s face clearly expressing the very good dimensions of his personal and professional life.

“Take care, Tim” as he left to work on the next demanding and creatively fulfilling film and television documentary project.

Jay was a professional creative programme maker and human being par excellence. At Goldsmiths we’ve every reason to do our very best to remember him.

Tim Crook, Goldsmiths

A house supper, January 2014

Outside: an inky Friday night, the last of the Christmas glitter catching the edges of the winter-struck trees. Inside: low lights, a warm table, ceviche and the first wine of the year. We talked about pianos and travel and how I might spend the unexpected tax rebate I’d just received from the Inland Revenue. You especially wanted to know about my writing, your eyes genuine and generous as you listened. I wondered why I’d ever been nervous. The food was delicious. The evening smiled on.

Ruth Steadman

An even more special memory now

One of the few occasions I got to talk to Jay all by myself (as opposed to part of the family group) for a good long time was in January 2014. Jay was working at home preparing for the teaching he was doing and he took the opportunity to come over just to chat. We talked about so many things – politics and news of course, but also his excitement at the upcoming work in Glasgow as well as his worry about being away from Liv for so long. It was a lovely afternoon, and even at the time I thought how good of him it was to make the effort. An even more special memory now.

Saskia, Sister-in-law

The Jay I knew

I wanted to share my story of my friendship with Jay.

I know I was just one of many people who would consider Jay a very special friend.

Jay first came into my life around 2004 when he came to do some freelance work at the Special Features Unit at the BBC. He was a breath of fresh air in the office and we became instant friends. Whenever he came into the office he always had a smile and his eyes sparkled. It was always fun when he was around.

At this time I think Jay was on a BBC mentoring programme with Sharon Banoff and Tony Philips.

We shared a love of film – in particular independent film – and we used to go to film screenings together. He always used to seem the films we watched in a different way and I learnt a great deal in our post screening conversations. I admired his energy, positive attitude to life and can-do approach to work and I followed his career/life progress with interest.

One memory I have was when Jay turned up at my office with his rucksack on his back looking completely exhausted. He’d literally just got off the plane from America where he’d just spent 3 months volunteering as part of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. As a British Nigerian he felt passionate about what Obama stood for and felt that he wanted to be part of an historic event. So he had packed his bags, jumped on a plane and headed to Columbus, Ohio.

I was gripped by the stories he shared with on his return, the Democrat families who put him up during his stay and his passionate desire to be ‘part of history.’ As he said to me ‘Yes We Can’ became ‘Yes We Did’. This was clearly a life changing experience for him and on his return he stayed with me as he was renting his flat out and was grappling with the idea of whether to pursue his career in Washington.

But as with everything life takes over and although we were in touch via Facebook & bumped into each other at various events we didn’t see as much of each other. He did some freelance work for me when I left the BBC and started working for myself. He even managed to get a fantastic job for Christian Aid going on a trip to South Sudan when I was unable to go due to a prior work commitments. I was so jealous of him – but I know that he captured impressive audio.

The last time I saw him was last year at the Curzon cinema where we bumped into each other at a documentary screening. It was like I had seen him yesterday. We talked about catching up properly for a coffee – sadly that didn’t happen.

But he was so happy, looking forward to getting married and seemed to be in such a good place with exciting projects in development and impressive work credits to his name.

He’ll remain in my heart, a constant source of inspiration and I feel extremely lucky that he came into my life.

He clearly touched the lives of everyone he met. His warmth, his sparkly eyes, his wonderful smile, his love for life, his passion. I really look forward to reading other people’s memories and stories of Jay.

Jude Habib

I hope he’s peacefully resting

I ‘met’ Jay, I think around 2007ish at a Soho film screening of my friend George Amponsah’s.

It was a boxing film, and a good one. Jay and I found ourselves sitting next to each other in for the screening. It wasn’t really a first meeting though. I’d spotted Jay out and about in London over the years – memories of him wearing a straw hat in Camden years before and having a quick friendly chat spring to mind. Anyway, at the film, we’d gravitated towards the front of the auditorium, and watched the film together, therefore starting a ‘meet up for coffees’ and chit chatty friendship where we’d talk about work, childhood, Africanness, Britishness, music, and whatever came up.

It’s just a short memory really but I’ll miss the enthusiastic chats with Jay about his work, books, thoughts and his hopes for the future, the last of which involved his engagement and marriage and life in Clapham.

He disappeared way too soon. I hope he’s peacefully resting.

Nana Ocran

He stood out in a working world

I first met Jay back in when I was working for the BBC World Service Trust at Bush House and Jay was doing occasional freelance work for Trust projects in Africa. Jay would come into the open plan office and have to look around for a spare desk to work at.

I’ll always remember his warm smile and quiet, relaxed presence in the room. It felt like an unexpected treat when he came in and I’d always eagerly leave my desk and go across and talk to him. Jay was like that: somebody who draws others to him. I think it’s because he stood out in a working world where words like kind, gentle, thoughtful, considerate, don’t often feature in job descriptions, but I think they were all true of Jay.

Even when he was busy he always had time to chat and catch up with his latest project and ask about what I’d been up to. Jay was one of those people you meet through work who you would like to get to know better. I left the BBC and our lives went separate ways, so sadly we never did.

Keith Ricketts

The Still Centre of Luminous Nights

Over the last few years a group of five of us enjoyed wonderful nights out, four or so times a year, sharing stories and confidences, laughter and occasional tears, like brothers.

We were all very different and found strength, like an alloy, in the coming together. Jay was the ever-patient organisational force and heart of our little group, nudging, arranging and re-arranging to make sure we met again before too much time passed.

These were boisterous and quiet nights all at once, talking through every manner of things under the heavens, from world politics to work, via relationships and housing, and the pressing moral and ethical questions of the day, often through the prism of Jay’s beloved Newsnight. His gentle, compassionate presence anchored us, he was the first to laugh – the evenings with Jay were always full of laughter – the first to ask the concerned question, the quickest to follow up with an email. Always the sharpest dressed, the most meticulously turned out. The gentle-man, both grounded and sensitive.

I used to walk home thinking of Jay as a friend with the gift of rare and uplifting constancy.

He was the still centre of those luminous nights.

Dominic Crossley-Holland

That day will have to wait, my friend

You walked in to our back room office with your big smile and gentle, friendly way – a refreshing thing in Current Affairs. “Hey Jo, I’m Jay.”

It was a warm September day that we ventured out to find Birch Grove, ex-Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s family home. No firm address and no appointment, we casually thought it would work. And to everyone’s surprise, it actually did. We found it, got let in and managed to leave our number with the groundsman who passed it on to the owner. But looking back, this wasn’t the only success of the day, for it was on this trip that I found a friend, one of the best friends I’ll ever have.

I had only known you a couple of weeks, but our friendship started here. On this car ride we spoke openly about life, death, family and friendship. There was an air of melancholy about you. You had lost both your parents recently and somehow the rawness gave an easy rain check to small talk. That theme followed in the nine years to come – no surface chat, just real stuff. But we did have a lot of fun.

Boy, you liked to talk! And so did I. Our conversations joyfully wove from fun to serious and then back to fun again. You also loved to shop – you had a great eye for good design and would choose beautiful independent shops that we could visit. Naturally these were interspersed with many a tea stop for philosophical chatting. It sounds rather pompous, but we weren’t. We were just two friends who liked to watch films, go dancing in Old Street and talk a lot about all sorts. A lot. I remember your playful nature and your huge, distinctive laugh – everyone warmed to you and your generous spirit meant we’d make friends easily wherever we went.

We often spoke about work and relationships with partners, friends and family. One of the things I loved most about you was that you always looked at things from the other person’s perspective and accepted the darker side of the human condition. Sometimes it was vicariously frustrating, but forgiveness came easily to you.

In the early days of our friendship we discussed how you liked the freelance lifestyle and despite being in your mid thirties, had no desire to settle down. A couple of things changed this and became key turning points in your life. You committed to two particular events with both feet in. I saw this first with your decision to go to America to volunteer on Obama’s campaign – we had discussed the pros and cons of you going for a while and once decided, you rented out your home, gave up your freelance radio and tv work and you went with all your heart. This excitement was followed again when you met your wife to be, Olivia. I had never seen you so passionate, pulling out all the stops possible. You took romance to a whole other level and it was clear to see that you had found someone very special who you fitted with.

I think those two life events were epiphanies for you to some extent. I remember you telling me how once you had made your mind up to commit, you felt as if everything suddenly opened up for you and more great opportunities followed. I think that is always true, but there was a lot of special Jay magic and boldness that went into that momentum.

One of the things I am most grateful for was your openness about how you felt about our friendship. I look back at emails now and smile when I read you saying how much you appreciated it and treasured it. Such openness is not something that comes easy to most and it was such a beautiful quality of yours.

I remember you saying once, during a particularly difficult time, that one day, when we’re very old, sitting in our rocking chairs, we will look back and laugh. That day will have to wait, my friend, but I believe it will come in time. Right now, you’re just one step ahead on the journey.

Jo Wade

Banal but precious memories

matilda monkey

Jay’s much-loved gift for my first-born child. A friendship spanning over 20 years, I will forever remember him as a sweet, thoughtful and authentic person. He is irreplaceable and greatly missed.
Tili Andoh

See you next time. Love and hugs

On my ‘phone there’s a thread of texts stretching back to 2006 when Jay and I made a radio series about Nelson Mandela. One, from that warm Chicago night in November 2008, reads “In Grant Park watching Obama make history. Unbelievable.” Another, from December last year, says “Sad moment :(( Mandela” and, a few days later, “An African American President addressing an African hero… never thought we’d ever witness this.”

Other messages are less momentous – work queries, festive greetings, arrangements to meet – but were sometimes just as consequential: here’s one from July 2012 which ends: “PS I got engaged last week” and, almost a year later, another suggesting we meet in the cafe in John Lewis because “I’m cooking tonight so will do my shop at the same time.” We drank tea and delightedly discussed wedding details.

The last text is from March this year. We’d just spoken on the ‘phone and made our usual loose arrangement to hook up in Broadcasting House. But I wasn’t at my desk and he left a note – I still have it – “See you next time. Love and hugs, Jay x”. I was really sorry to have missed him then, immeasurably sorry now there won’t be a next time. So I hug these fragments of our friendship, and remember Jay, with love.

Dixi Stewart

A firm handshake and a warm, friendly manner

I met Jay on Wednesday 19 March 2014, and was greeted by that broad, genuine smile that I would soon come to know – and with a firm handshake and a warm, friendly manner. If I close my eyes and put myself back in that office chair, on the fourth floor of the BBC Scotland building in Pacific Quay in Glasgow – I can still see him walking towards me, wearing his beanie hat that he often adorned to help him think. From the moment I shook his hand, I knew that we would be friends. Jay had walked to work that morning in the rare fresh spring sunshine of Glasgow from the north of the city centre, and his first comment was how pleasurable it had been to actually walk to work. He seemed genuinely happy to be in Glasgow – and it was unquestionably a pleasure for me to meet him. The next day (as is typical with Glasgow weather) it rained – and he hadn’t brought a jacket – but nothing, it seemed, could dull that familiar grin of his.

Martin Conaghan

Not least, a very, very good cook

There are lots of things I loved about Jay and there are lots of things that both Jay and I shared a love of, not least food, cooking and books.

House dinners were to come something of a Broomwood Road institution. Each week myself, Olivia or Jay would cook for the house and an invited guest. It was a time each week where we would all sit down together, get to chat with each other and our friends and, most importantly, eat very good food. Whilst we started with humble dishes the house dinner was soon to morph into a three-course haute cuisine affair driven in no small part by our amicable rivalry. Jay was soon treating us to such delights as squid salad, roasted pork belly, and duck with sour cherry sauce. We always used to tease Jay that his dishes were a case of style over substance, as they were always beautifully presented. The truth however was, that like the man himself, Jay had style and substance.

Jay was a gentle, kind and considerate friend. Typical of Jay’s thoughtfulness, whilst reading one of his (and mine) favourite novel’s ‘Americanah’, he noticed a drink that was described in it, which he bookmarked. Knowing that I wasn’t drinking at the time, he went to the trouble of preparing the drink for me the next time it was his turn to cook house dinner. It was a small but appreciated kindness and was characteristic of Jay and his generosity of spirit.

Jay is greatly missed in Broomwood Road, as elsewhere. To say that he was special and unique does not seem to do him justice, but he was both those things and much, much more. Not least, a very, very good cook.

Hannah Bryce

Meeting Jay in Herne Hill 1996

Jay and Olivia with mina and Dietmar in Berlin in 2012

Jay and Olivia in Berlin in 2012

18 years ago I met Jay the first time in a pub in Herne Hill. I had just moved to London from Berlin to study. There he was, on a lazy afternoon with a small book in his hand while waiting for someone. So was I. I asked him about reading in a pub, Jay answered in his charming way with a smile on his face. That was the beginning for our friendship – one of the few that stayed lively even when I moved back to Berlin. Talking to Jay on the phone was always like a time travel – we’ve stayed connected all those years.

Mina Hagedorn

I owe Jay a thank you

Jay and I had arranged to meet for a drink as he said he wanted to some career advice. We had talked on many occasions about how to progress his career in TV but he said he was at a point where he wanted to plan for a more settled life. He was getting married and wanted to find ways to be on the road less to ensure he was going to be around to see his children grow up. So, he said, what did I think about him becoming a lecturer in broadcast journalism. At times I had given Jay ‘tough love’ if I thought he needed to be more realistic in his thinking about his career and he once admitted he always threw news ideas at me with a small amount of trepidation. But did I think he could make go of lecturing? I immediately said he could – yes, he’d have things to learn but his passion for his subject, his generosity of spirit and his lovely people skills made me think he was someone who students would enjoy learning from. He seemed happy and relieved and we spent much of the rest of the evening exploring the idea. Just before we parted he asked me about my house hunting. I had been looking for a place to buy and Jay had been trying to persuade me of the joys of living in Clapham which as a north London girl I was resisting – but that evening he wore me down and made me promise to look in Clapham. And to ensure I would be true to my word he rang me next day to check I was going to contact estate agents! I did look for a property in Clapham, I did find my perfect flat, and I couldn’t be happier. As it turned out I owe Jay more of a ‘thank you’ for that drink and chat than he did me.

Noelle Britton

Jay was my friend

Jay was my friend.

I met him about 9 years ago. I’d just come off maternity leave and I was starting work on a new series. I was nervous and scared. I was working with a new bunch of people and the only thing I knew about my researcher was that he was called Jay. As I walked very slowly to my new office, the image of a bird came into my head, a Jay. I immediately felt better.

As I turned the corner I saw the back of a man’s head sitting opposite my desk. As I approached the head turned round and the face smiled. A big, welcoming smile, with sparkling, smiling eyes greeted me.

“Hi Fatima, I’m Jay”.

And so we began. Smiling through all the hard work, smiling when the shoots went wrong, smiling when edits went on into the early mornings, smiling when contributors pulled out, really smiling when the music work, laughing and smiling when the programmes went on.

Jay made me smile when I all I wanted to do was cry. I would be a liar if I said I was a smiler, I wasn’t but Jay was and he taught me to smile more.

I miss Jay awfully. The image I take with me, the one I will always treasure, is the one I have of him on the first day I met him, the happy, joyful, beautiful smiling face, that told me everything would be alright.

Fatima Salaria

Afterward many are strong at the broken places

“Boohoo, oops, kool, fab, bums…” I always knew it was a message from Jay. He had such a lovely and distinctive way of expressing himself, as if he was there in the room with you. I can hear his infectious laugh as I write this, a guffaw often mixed with an element of surprise, like he never quite believed what he was hearing or being told.

Jay was always good humoured and kind, interested in other people and as pleased and excited for their good news as he was his own. He was never rude, short or cruel about or to anybody, he just didn’t have it in him.

On his wedding day, when he was so very happy, Jay quoted Ernest Hemingway as he remembered his mum and dad, “the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” I found it incredibly moving and such a positive and brave way of dealing with tragedy in one’s life. Hopefully, the strength Jay got from these words is something we too can draw on when remembering him.

James Giles

The world has music for those who choose to listen

“The world has music for those who choose to listen” is an Asian proverb I learned just before meeting the most funky friend at Sussex University in ’97, Jay! The proverb might as well be Jay’s words. Jay had a gift of tuning in on the environment he was in and engaging people in music and politics. Tunes – funky, vibrant, full of soul – most in vinyl. Always with a message to listen to. Grateful for many funky music moments, Jay! Do send us all a tune when you are in for it, cheers!

Metta Wiese

Wonderful smile

Jay, our dearest memory of you would have to be of our DVD club gatherings. Early on we gave up actually watching films, as it became about the six of us enjoying each other’s company. Apart from the interesting, delicious courses you and Liv came up with, what we remember and will miss most is your wonderful smile and your genuine, calm presence in conversations. You are, and will remain, very much missed.

Georgina Dobson

Sweet natured colleague

Jay Mukoro is the one of the most genuine, nicest and sweet natured colleagues in telly I know and have worked with.

Janey Ayoade

Kindness to strangers

Hi Jay, although I worked with you shortly, I remember your kindness to give me advices when I felt lost in my direction. All my thoughts are with your family.

Sunyoung Jeong

Directing for TV

Jay had been in Glasgow for just a few weeks and had already become a very popular and respected friend and colleague. The thing that really upsets me is the fact he’d been working on all this landmark stuff with assistant producer credits, but for the last two years all he’d wanted was a directing break. And he finally got it.

Marcus Ryder, Editor, BBC Scotland

Stranded in Abuja

Jay and Tariq enjoying breakfast in Abuja, April 2010

Jay and Tariq enjoying breakfast in Abuja, April 2010

Jay was stranded in Abuja because of the ash cloud preventing all flights from taking off. I was secretly delighted as it meant the team was there throughout my own trip and we were able to pile through our work and have some fun.

Jay and I went to see all 3 of Chidi’s plays staged in Abuja, the first events of their kind and truly astonishingly good experiences. Unbeknown to me, Akim had told everyone that it was my birthday and Jay along with all the Nigerians co-conspired in the very public celebration – not my style at all but undeniably moving.

My birthday evening was particularly memorable as it rained heavily and Tariq, Jay and I decided to go to Wakkis to have a curry. We arrived soaked, had a bit to drink and as is the way when conversing with Tariq discussed the philosophy of perfume and why there is no such thing as coincidence. I have little recollection of the conversation except that Jay and I sitting opposite each other would gasp, giggle and gaze in amazement at Tariq’s unique swooping of thoughts and ideas.

That was the feature of the trip, going for evening walks with Jay and hearing him describe how one day he would like to return to academia, and listening carefully as he very gently described a future of love with the woman of his dreams.

Karen Merkel