Veteran broadcaster Tony Blackburn has returned to the BBC after being dismissed for ten months over evidence he gave in the Jimmy Savile inquiry.
Blackburn made his comeback with a Radio 2 show on New Year’s Eve which opened with Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.
The 73-year-old said of his return: “It’s New Year’s Eve, it’s BBC Radio 2 and what do you know? Good Lord, I’m back.”
To listeners wondering where he’d been, he said: “I went for a long walk and got lost. Somebody found me yesterday.”
Blackburn, who had broadcast on the BBC for almost 50 years, was taken off air in February after giving evidence to the Savile inquiry. Blackburn said the inquiry had claimed he was interviewed about a girl’s diary by a senior BBC executive and a senior lawyer – but he insisted he was never interviewed by either.
BBC director-general Tony Hall said at the time that the decision to remove Blackburn was made purely on the basis of the evidence he gave, not in relation to events in the past.
“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. “I’m making a judgement about the standards of behaviour I expect from everybody working at the BBC now.”
In a statement made in October, announcing his return, the BBC said both it and Blackburn stood by their statements but Blackburn had “recognised that the BBC considered a period off-air was appropriate”.
In the same statement, 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.”
Blackburn will present an hour-long Radio 2 show at 7pm on Fridays, starting later in January.