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Blackburn at the 2008 BAFTA Television Awards
29 January 1943 |
Tony Blackburn (born 29 January 1943) is an English disc jockey, who broadcast on the "pirate" stations Radio Caroline and Radio London in the 1960s and was the first disc jockey to broadcast on BBC Radio 1 in 1967. In 2002 he was the winner of the ITV reality TV programme I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
He was born Antony Kenneth Blackburn, in Guildford, Surrey, but in 1946 his family moved to Bournemouth, Dorset, where his sister, Jacqueline, was born. His mother, Pauline Cubitt (née Stone), was a housewife and his father, Kenneth Fleming Blackburn, was a GP, and he was educated at Castle Court School in Parkstone, Poole, Dorset and Millfield School in Somerset, which he entered on a sports scholarship. He went on to become captain of the school cricket team, but left before taking any examinations. He then achieved O-levels, following private tuition, and enrolled for a HND course in Business Studies at Bournemouth Technical College. He began his career as a singer, then worked as a DJ for the offshore pirate radio stations Radio Caroline and Radio London, before joining the BBC in 1967, initially broadcasting on the Light Programme.
1960s and 1970s
Tony Blackburn was in a group called Tony Blackburn and the Rovers which performed in the Bournemouth and surrounding areas. He was the first DJ on BBC Radio 1 when it was launched on 30 September 1967, and presented The Radio 1 Breakfast Show until 1973. The first words spoken on BBC Radio 1 were "...and good morning everyone! Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1". As his singing career failed to take off, despite 14 singles being released, the first being the Pop-Soul styled "Don't Get Off The Train" on Fontana TF 562 released in April 1965 and two in 1967-68, "So Much Love" and "It's Only Love" made the UK Top 40 on MGM, he stopped singing and concentrated on radio presenting. His cheery style and corny jokes ensured his household reputation and made him a popular figure with some, though his dislike of heavy and progressive rock and punk/new wave made him a hate figure with others. His fellow Radio 1 DJ John Peel would often derisively refer to him as "Timmy Bannockburn".
At first he was associated mainly with bubblegum and mainstream pop, but he later championed soul music. It was largely due to him that "I'm Still Waiting" by Diana Ross, which was initially just an album track, was released as a single in the UK in 1971 and reached number one. He was a regular host of Top of the Pops and in 1968 he fronted his own show, Time For Blackburn, produced by Southern Television for the ITV network.
He got into trouble during the late-'60s for critical comments he made on the Radio 1 breakfast show against the Trade Union Congress (TUC). In an 2013 interview for The Radio Academy's Radio Talk podcast, Blackburn says that it is not advisable for a broadcaster to reveal their political allegiances. In this interview, he says that he's "not a great lover of the TUC or of unions ... but i keep it to myself now."
In June 1973, he took over the weekday mid-morning slot, where he introduced 'The Golden Hour'. The feature was to prove popular, being carried on by Simon Bates and Simon Mayo when they took over the slot in subsequent years.
In June 1978 he released a Northern soul single under the name Lenny Gamble, a version of Doris Troy's "I'll Do Anything" on the B side of a Flirtations 45 on Casino Classics CC1, and was allegedly furious when Noel Edmonds, who had recently been given Blackburn's BBC Radio 1 breakfast show slot, revealed the alias on air. Nevertheless both broadcasters later became close friends.
Over several years of the 1970s, Blackburn was a co-presenter on the BBC's summer programme Seaside Special, alongside other well known names from BBC Radio such as Dave Lee Travis and David Hamilton.
In November 1977 he took over the weekday afternoon show. During this period, he was going through divorce with his first wife, actress Tessa Wyatt.
From September 1979 until December 1981 he presented the Top 40 show on Radio 1.
1980s and 1990s
In early 1980 he took over Junior Choice on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 8-10am, while continuing to present the Sunday chart show until the end of 1981 - being succeeded by Tommy Vance. During 1982 BBC Radio 1 dropped the name Junior Choice and the show became the Weekend Breakfast Show which Blackburn continued to host until his final show on 23 September 1984. In addition to his BBC Radio 1 weekend show, he joined BBC Radio London in 1981, where he presented the weekday afternoon show. It was here that he showed his love for soul music.
Having left BBC Radio 1 after 17 years he took over BBC Radio London's weekday mid-morning show in 1984, mixing soul music with guests and phone-ins until 1988 when he joined Capital Gold presenting the breakfast show for many years, later moving to the drivetime slot until early 2002 when he took over the Weekday Evening Show from 8-10pm, playing soul music.
Blackburn left Capital Gold in late 2002; he joined London's Jazz FM following the station's acquisition by GMG Radio in March 2003 as host of Real Soul every weeknight from 10pm until midnight, initially a live programme before a contract to host the Classic Gold breakfast show that May meant the show became voicetracked - Real Soul ended in March 2004. He was awarded the 'Oldie Of The Year' title in 2003. In addition, Blackburn presented a pre-recorded show entitled the Real Party Night, broadcast across the GMG Radio network and later by CN Radio stations every Saturday evening, prior to its conclusion in mid-2005.
In March 2004, Blackburn returned to BBC London 94.9, presenting a Monday evening soul show, and in addition to that, in April of the same year, he also took on the Saturday lunchtime show.
He also hosted the breakfast show on Classic Gold, with co-hosts Laura Frey (Laura Pittson) for four years and latterly Erika North and Sandy Warr. Although his Monday evening show on BBC London 94.9 ended in July 2004, he still continued to present the Saturday lunchtime show for the station.
In June 2004, he was temporarily suspended from his show on Classic Gold for playing songs by Cliff Richard, in defiance of a ruling by the head of programmes that Richard's music did not match the station's 'brand values'. The dispute made national headlines and was even referred to in Parliament, with Leader of the House Peter Hain voicing his support for Blackburn. He was reinstated, amid rumours that the episode was merely a publicity stunt. The station started adding Richard's songs to their playlist after public reaction to this.
He performed in a science fiction audio play based on the Doctor Who television series by Big Finish Productions - The Rapture. He played himself as a DJ, in an Ibiza nightclub where sinister forces are brainwashing the patrons.
In 2002, he appeared in the first series of the British reality TV series, I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, which he eventually won. Blackburn also occasionally fronts competitions on GMTV, including "The Clues Brothers" (a parody of The Blues Brothers), with fellow DJ Keith Chegwin.
In 2007, Blackburn was part of Beat The Boys on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. His obstacle was 'Tony Blackburn's Wheel of Steel' and he made a few appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks between 2001 and 2005, appearing alongside guests such as Slash and Gary Moore.
In 2007, Blackburn collaborated with The Wurzels to re-release "I Am A Cider Drinker", in aid of a Bristol prostate cancer charity. He left the Classic Gold breakfast show, upon the merger with Capital Gold, the same year. On 30 September 2007, he co-presented a recreation of BBC Radio 1's first programme with Chris Moyles to mark the station's 40th birthday.
After leaving Classic Gold, Blackburn continued with his Saturday Lunchtime show on BBC London 94.9 and also took over a three-hour soul show on the KMFM network in Kent each Sunday afternoon. Blackburn made celebrity guest appearances on Channel 4's Countdown in early October 2007.
In January 2008, in addition to his two weekend shows, he began presenting a weekly show on KCFM 99.8fm in Hull and East Yorkshire.
In February 2008, he took over the weekend breakfast show on 102.2 Smooth Radio in London from 7–10 am every Saturday and Sunday. The show began simulcasting on several other stations in the Smooth Network from 7 June 2008. Blackburn also acted as holiday cover for his Smooth colleague Graham Dene on the weekday breakfast show. Lynn Parsons was his weekend breakfast show cover. From 21 August 2010 his weekend breakfast show was extended by one hour, airing from 6-10am, but he left Smooth on 30 October 2010 as he returned to the BBC.
On 9 March 2008, he began a Sunday request show (in place of his Saturday show) on BBC London 94.9. He also presents the Sunday afternoon show on the KMFM radio stations in Kent. At the beginning of April 2009, his Sunday show returned to a soul and Motown format.
On 31 May 2010 Blackburn returned to BBC Radio 2 for a one-off live show featuring the 60 Top Selling Hits of the 60s; in July 2010 he also stood in for 3 days for Judi Spiers on BBC Radio Devon and on 30 August he again returned to BBC Radio 2 for another one-off live show featuring the top 100 million-selling UK singles.
On Saturday 6 November 2010, Blackburn replaced Dale Winton as the regular host of BBC Radio 2's Pick of the Pops programme. Blackburn now presents BBC Radio 2's Pick of the Pops every Saturday from 1–3pm as well as BBC London 94.9 on Sundays from 12–2pm and a weekly Sunday show on Magic 1161. Tony is regular relief cover for Anne Diamond on BBC Radio Berkshire (10am – 1pm).
|“||There is an opinion that I'm a complete idiot and that I've never had sex. That's not true !||”|
In 1972, Blackburn married actress Tessa Wyatt. They had a son Simon (born 8 April 1973). They divorced in 1977. He lives with his second wife Debra and their daughter Victoria (born 1997) in Arkley, near Barnet, Hertfordshire.
His autobiography, Poptastic; My Life in Radio, was published in September 2007, by Cassell Illustrated.
- Blackburn, Tony (2007). Poptastic My Life in Radio. Cassell Illustrated. ISBN 978-1-84403-600-4.
- Tim Davie (7 February 2013). "RadioTalk: Tony Blackburn at 70". http://www.radioacademy.org/podcasts/ (Podcast). Radio Academy. Event occurs at 23:30-24:30. http://www.radioacademy.org/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2013-02-07-43217.mp3. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
- "How Not to Decorate - 'Tony Blackburn' Episode Info - MSN TV". Tv.msn.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Plunkett, John (24 September 2010). "Tony Blackburn to present Pick of the Pops". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 13 November 2010.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 229. CN 5585.
- "International Vegetarian Union - Tony Blackburn (1943- )". Ivu.org. 29 January 1943. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Tony Blackburn's Weekend Warm-up at BBC Programmes (BBC Radio Berkshire)
- Pick of the Pops at BBC Programmes (BBC Radio 2)
- Tony Blackburn at BBC Programmes (BBC London 94.9)
- Tony Blackburn on Magic 828 (Magic 828)
- Tony Blackburn on KMFM (KMFM)
- Tony Blackburn at the Internet Movie Database
- Tony Blackburn at Radio Rewind
-  Audio: Interview with Paul Morley for The Observer, 2010
|BBC Radio 1
Breakfast Show presenter
|BBC Radio 1
chart show presenter
1979 - 1982
weekend breakfast show presenter
2008 - 2010
|BBC Radio 2
Pick of the Pops presenter
|I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!