Tony Blackburn: Wikis


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Tony Blackburn

Blackburn at the 2008 BAFTA Television Awards
Born 29 January 1943 (1943-01-29) (age 66)
Guildford, Surrey
Occupation disc jockey

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 presenter to appear 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!.


Early career

He was born Antony Kenneth Blackburn, in Guildford, Surrey, but in 1946 his family moved to Dorset. His father 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 a clutch of O-levels, following private tuition, and enrolled for a HND course in Business Studies at Bournemouth Technical College[1]. 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

He was the first DJ on BBC Radio 1 when it was launched on 30 September 1967, and presented the 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 (two of which, "So Much Love" and "It's Only Love" made the UK Top 40), 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.

In 1973 he released a Northern soul single under the name Lenny Gamble, and was allegedly furious when Noel Edmonds, who had recently been given Blackburn's Radio 1 breakfast show slot, revealed the alias on air. Nevertheless both broadcasters later became close friends.

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 November 1977 he took over the weekday afternoon show. During this period, he was going through divorce with his first wife, actress Tessa Wyatt.

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 Radio 1 dropped the name Junior Choice and the show became the Weekend Breakfast Show which Tony continued to host until his final show on 23 September 1984. In addition to his Radio 1 weekend show, Tony 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 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.

Recent years

Tony 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. Tony was awarded the prestigious "Oldie Of The Year" in 2003. In addition, Tony presented a pre-recorded uptempo soul 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, Tony 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.

Tony also hosted the breakfast show on Classic Gold, with co-hosts 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, Tony was part of Beat The Boys on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. His obstacle was Tony Blackburn's Wheel of Steel.

In 2007, Tony 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 Radio 1's very first programme with Chris Moyles to mark the station's 40th birthday.

Upon leaving Classic Gold, Tony still continued with his Saturday Lunchtime show on BBC London 94.9 and also took over a 3 hour soul show on the KMFM network in Kent each Sunday afternoon from 4-7pm

Blackburn made celebrity guest appearances on Channel 4's Countdown in early October 2007.

Blackburn has been a vegetarian since he was at least 4 years old.[2]

Current work

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 from 10am each Friday.

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 acts as holiday cover for his Smooth colleague Graham Dene on the weekday breakfast show. Lynn Parsons is his weekend breakfast show cover.

On 9 March 2008, he began a new 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, Tony's Sunday show returned to a Soul & Motown format much to his approval.

Tony co-presented the BBC Children In Need programme with Caroline Feraday from Dickens World in Chatham, Kent for the BBC South East region on 14 November 2008.

Personal life

In 1972, Blackburn married actress Tessa Wyatt. They had a son Simon. They divorced in 1977.

He lives with his second wife Debra in Arkley, near Barnet, Hertfordshire.


His autobiography, Poptastic; My Life in Radio was published in September 2007, by Cassell Illustrated.


  1. ^ Blackburn, Tony (2007). Poptastic My Life in Radio. Cassell Illustrated. ISBN 978-1-84403-600-4.  
  2. ^

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
First presenter
BBC Radio One
Breakfast Show Presenter

Succeeded by
Noel Edmonds
Preceded by
Simon Bates
BBC Radio One
chart show presenter

1979 - 1982
Succeeded by
Tommy Vance
Preceded by
First Winner
I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

Succeeded by
Phil Tufnell


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