DJ Tony Blackburn is returning to the BBC in January.
The presenter, who was taken off air in February following criticism of him in Dame Janet Smith’s report into the Jimmy Savile scandal, will present an hour-long show on BBC Radio 2 on Fridays at 7pm, taking over Desmond Carrington’s slot, following his decision to retire from his “golden oldies” show.
Blackburn will also be back on to local radio but does not appear to be returning to his berth on Saturday afternoon’s Pick of the Pops. He was replaced by Paul Gambaccini following his suspension and the BBC has confirmed that he Gambaccini will continue full-time on Pick of the Pops. It adds that it will release full details of his new show “nearer the time”.
The BBC said it stood by the decision to take him off air but was happy to welcome him back.
“We are pleased to announce Tony Blackburn’s return to the BBC in January 2017,” the Corporation said in a statement.
“The BBC stands by the findings of Dame Janet Smith and the decision it made to take Tony Blackburn off air at the start of this year based on Dame Janet’s Smith’s preference for the documentary evidence relating to meetings that took place over Tony Blackburn’s statements.
“Tony Blackburn for his part stands by his statements to Dame Janet Smith but recognises that the BBC considered a period off air was appropriate.”
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.”
The BBC said there will be no further comment.
In her report Dame Janet concluded that the veteran DJ had been questioned by Bill Cotton, a senior BBC executive, and Sir Brian Neill QC, a lawyer who oversaw an inquiry into Top of the Pops, over allegations that he invited teenager Claire McAlpine back to his flat and seduced her.
Blackburn denied the allegations, and told Dame Janet that he had not been quizzed by either man.
But he later told the retired judge, via his solicitor, that he accepted that she “might well prefer” documentary evidence that showed that the questioning had taken place.
In a statement released ahead of the report’s publication, Blackburn referred to an allegation made in 1971 by the mother of a 15-year-old girl who had claimed she had been “seduced” by a number of celebrities, including Blackburn himself. The girl later took her own life.
“I am told that the mother told the BBC, a few weeks after her initial complaint, that her daughter had withdrawn the allegation against me,” Blackburn said, adding that he “was not guilty of any inappropriate conduct.”
BBC director general Tony Hall said in February that the Corporation sacked Blackburn because of failings in the evidence he gave to Dame Janet’s enquiry.
“I’m making no judgement about what happened in the past. I’m making a judgement about how someone has engaged with a seriously important inquiry,” said Hall, reading from prepared notes. “I’m making a judgement about the standards of behaviour I expect from everybody working at the BBC now.
“As Dame Janet has said, she has rejected his [Blackburn’s] evidence and she has explained very clearly why. I have to take that extremely seriously.
“My interpretation of that is that Tony Blackburn fell short of the standards of evidence that such an inquiry demanded.”
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.