A veteran BBC DJ says he was compelled to quit his job after inadvertently playing a song containing the n-word on his local radio show.
David Lowe broadcast a 1932 recording of The Sun Has Got His Hat On by Ambrose & His Orchestra in an edition of his Radio Devon programme Singers and Swingers at the end of last month.
The presenter, who has been with the Corporation for over 32 years, said it was a song he had played before and that he had not realised it featured the racially offensive word until a listener contacted the BBC to complain.
Lowe said he had apologised to his managers for the “silly mistake” and volunteered to make an on-air apology, or alternatively to “fall on his sword” and quit – an offer which he says the BBC later accepted.
Writing on his blog, Lowe said “I would like to apologise unreservedly to all of you, especially those who may have been offended by the track in question.”
He added that he had “no quarrel with anyone at the BBC in the West and South West” but criticised “a repressive system that encourages wholly disproportionate reactions to innocent errors of judgement”.
“Unfortunately, this was a genuine error on my part,” wrote Lowe, “the first of its kind I made in my 32 years of broadcasting … but, given today’s unforgiving obsession with political correctness, I have been compelled to pay the ultimate price.
“I’m left to ponder this: how can one oversight on my part, followed by one email complaint (that I know of), have such a negative impact on the lives so many innocent people? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that this regrettable episode provides proof of the damaging effect political correctness in all its pernicious forms is having on British society today?”
Lowe also thanked listeners for their support following the incident and confirmed that he had declined a subsequent offer to return to his job, for health reasons.
The 68-year-old, who suffers from dystonic tremor, a condition that affects the central nervous system, said: “To put it mildly, these past two weeks have played havoc with my tremor symptoms, and it’s going to take quite some time for me to get back to where I was before this n-word issue blew-up … if I ever do.”
A BBC spokesperson said in a statement: ‘We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his Singers And Swingers show, and we would be happy to have him back on air.”
Meanwhile, some commentators have suggested that the outcome to the situation is particularly harsh given recent high-profile incidents of the use of racial slurs by Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson.
The BBC2 show’s producer apologised after Clarkson made a joke about an Asian man involving the potentially offensive term “slope” in an episode now under investigation by Ofcom, while the presenter himself begged forgiveness in a video message when footage surfaced of him appearing to use the n-word in the rushes from another Top Gear item filmed two years ago.
Clarkson has since revealed in his column for The Sun that he faces the sack should he make “one more offensive remark, anywhere, at any time.”
Roy Corlett, David Lowe’s former boss at BBC Radio Devon, told the Mail Online: “To end David’s career in this way when Clarkson was given a rap on the knuckles is absolutely appalling.”