Thursday, February 25, 2016

Not Tony Blackburn!

The most surprising thing about the BBC's alleged sacking of Tony Blackburn was learning that he still worked for them.  I'd just assumed that he'd been pensioned off to some local radio station which played wall-to-wall golden oldies.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly why Blackburn was 'sacked', though.  It all seems to come down to the fact that he denies ever having been interviewed by BBC officials in 1971 over some allegations made by a teenage girl, (who subsequently committed suicide after the News of the World claimed that it had obtained her diary and was going to publish it and all the salacious details of her alleged affair with an unnamed DJ).  Despite there apparently being documentary evidence of these interviews, Blackburn is adamant they never happened, denying that this is a lapse of memory.  Consequently, BBC management have decided that that this proves that he failed to co-operate into the enquiry into the activities of Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall when they were employed by the BBC, and that this, in turn, demonstrates that his conduct has failed to meet the standards contractually required of him.  Which seems a bit flimsy, I have to say.  Although he might not think that it is a memory lapse, it could well be - there have been several occasions when I've been convinced that some conversation or event that someone else remembers never happened.  Even when confronted with concrete evidence that these things had happened, I still had no recollection of them.

I have to say that I have a certain degree of respect for Tony Blackburn, who, up till now, has been one of radio's great survivors.  I remember when he was in his first flush of fame on Radio One back in the early seventies - he wasn't considered cool or trendy even then, yet had huge listening figures.  Perhaps it is the very fact that Blackburn has never been 'with it' or 'down with the youth' which has kept him in the business for so long - far more cringe worthy than a non-trendy radio DJ is one desperately trying to be 'whacky', 'crazy' and 'with it'.  Blackburn has always clearly known that he isn't 'with it' and has succeeded in using that as a strength.  He survived everything and, until now, seemed to have survived the toxic fall out from the Savile affair, which tainted so many of his seventies showbiz contemporaries.  Ironically though, it seems that the pretext being used to finally oust him from the airwaves is actually in regard to an incident of which he was cleared of having any connection to over forty years ago.  But these days it seems that employers need only the slightest pretext to get rid of employees they don't like - thanks to the gradual erosion of workers' rights and employment protections over the years.  And nobody, it seems, is immune from such treatment.  not even Tony Blackburn.



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