Veteran broadcaster Tony Blackburn has returned to BBC radio, announcing: “Good Lord, I’m back.”
The 73-year-old presented a three-hour live show, Soul Party, on Radio 2 on New Year’s Eve, opening with Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.
Blackburn said of his return: “I went for a long walk and got lost. Somebody found me yesterday.”
The show was his first broadcast since he was taken off air in February over the Jimmy Savile inquiry.
Director general Tony Hall said at the time that Blackburn had failed to fully co-operate with the inquiry.
Blackburn said at the time the inquiry had claimed he was interviewed about a girl’s diary by a senior BBC executive and a senior lawyer – but he insisted he was never interviewed by either.
In a statement made in October, announcing his return, the BBC said both it and Blackburn stood by their statements but Blackburn had “recognised that the BBC considered a period off-air was appropriate”.
In the same statement, Blackburn said: “I do not seek to criticise the BBC for decisions it has made in the past.
“I have had a difficult year personally, but I’m pleased to be returning to the BBC and can’t wait to get behind the mic again.”
Who is Tony Blackburn?
The son of a doctor from Guildford, Tony Blackburn was the first DJ to broadcast on Radio 1 when it launched in September 1967.
He spent 17 years at the station and also presented Top of the Pops and was a weekly fixture on Noel’s House Party. Prior to that, he broadcast on Radio Caroline South and then Radio London.
After Radio 1, he was one of the launch presenters on Capital Gold. He has also hosted Radio 2’s Pick Of The Pops as well as regular bank holiday specials for the stations. He has also had shows on BBC London 94.9, BBC Radio Berkshire, the Magic network, BBC3CR and KMFM.
In 2002 he won the ITV reality TV programme I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
As his new slot began, he said: “It’s New Year’s Eve, it’s BBC Radio 2 and what do you know? Good Lord, I’m back.”
He was welcomed back by many fans on social media – including Sir Roger Moore, who tweeted: “He’s back!”
During the show, Blackburn played tracks from Michael Jackson, The Temptations and Dionne Warwick among others.
He will be presenting an hour-long BBC Radio 2 show called The Golden Hour, at 7pm on Fridays, starting on January 6.
It is the long-term replacement for the Desmond Carrington’s weekly show The Music Goes Round following Carrington’s retirement in October after 70 years of broadcasting.
Blackburn told listeners he was “looking forward very much indeed” to starting the new programme, which he said would be full of “fantastic” music.
He has been replaced on Pick Of The Pops by Paul Gambaccini.
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