DJ Tony Blackburn has thanked fans after being sacked from the BBC in the wake of the Dame Janet Smith inquiry into sexual abuse at the corporation.
Introducing his Retro Countdown show on Kent-based KMFM yesterday afternoon, the 73-year-old said: “Thank-you very much for all your support this week. Thank you as well to KMFM. I hope you enjoy the show.”
I love the BBC, I was proud to work for the BBC. I was proud to open up Radio 1 and I don’t know why this is happening to meTONY BLACKBURN SPEAKS OUT ON RADIO 4 SHOW
He then played Blondie’s Atomic, Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce, and Tight Fit’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight as the three-hour show kicked off with hits from 28 February in the 1980s.
His brief message came as he claimed he was given the opportunity to resign from the BBC and engineer a return in a “few months”.
Blackburn, whose evidence to the inquiry was criticised by BBC director-general Tony Hall, said he had been made a scapegoat by the corporation.
The presenter has strenuously denied he “seduced” teenager Claire McAlpine after inviting her back to his flat following a recording of Top Of The Pops in the 1970s, and is taking legal action. The girl later killed herself.
Speaking to Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme, Blackburn said he was told that if he resigned from the BBC there would be an opportunity for him to return later in the year.
He said: “I had been asked to resign by Bob Shannon [head of Radio 2] of the BBC, but I said, well, why do I want to resign?
“There’s no point. I love my job at the BBC, I love the BBC, why would I resign?
“They gave me the chance to resign, saying that that way you don’t actually cut off all ties from the BBC and we could probably bring you back in a few months.” Blackburn said he refused to do that, “because I have got nothing to hide”, and stuck by the evidence he gave to the review.
The DJ said he wished he had been investigated at the time of the allegation of sexual activity by the girl, to prove his innocence, “but I only heard of this in 2012, I think it was”. He said he would be open to a return to the BBC, but is concentrating on getting “my career back and my reputation back”.
The veteran broadcaster, who won the first series of ITV’s I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2002, said: “The amount of support I’ve had has absolutely astounded me. I love the BBC, I was proud to work for the BBC. I was proud to open up Radio 1 and I don’t know why this is happening to me.
“This one comment from Dame Janet Smith has ruined it all and I do object to that. I was very, very annoyed about it. But I’m not annoyed now, I’m sad.”