Tony Blackburn marks 50 years of broadcasting with a portrait

Tony Blackburn with artist John Puckey Tony Blackburn and artist John Puckey find plenty to talk about during a series of portrait sittings

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Tony Blackburn has been caught on canvas - and in conversation - to celebrate his 50 years as a broadcaster.

Over a series of sittings, artist John Puckey recorded his discussions with his famous subject for a special Radio 2 programme.

Performer in a Portrait goes out on Thursday and also includes a selection of some of Blackburn's favourite music.

The likeness of the veteran DJ, who started his career at Radio Caroline in 1964, was unveiled live on air last week, when Blackburn was a guest on Chris Evans' Radio 2 breakfast show.

'I've had my photo taken many, many times but never had a portrait done,' he says. 'Looking at it as the painting emerged, I found myself slightly scary.'

Portrait of Tony Blackburn Portrait accentuates Blackburn's 'vivid blue eyes'

But Puckey, who has previously painted subjects ranging from Seth Lakeman to David Owen, found Blackburn an 'easy-going subject'.

Music and mischief

'Despite the age difference, there was a shared sense of humour and passion for music,' reflects the former club DJ, who is 40 years younger than Blackburn.

'Of course, Tony's well known for his humour, but it was important for me to channel all the other aspects of his personality into the picture.'

As an artist, he was drawn to Blackburn's 'vivid blue eyes'.

'I accentuated the sparkliness of them a bit to hint to the more whacky aspects of his personality. He's the face of respectability in a way but then he's got this little bit of mischief coming through.'

Blackburn joined the BBC Light Programme from the pirate station in August 1967, becoming the first DJ to be heard on the new Radio 1 a month later.

He remained with Radio 1 until 1984; he's currently presenter of Radio 2's Pick of the Pops and has his own show on Radio Berkshire.

Earlier this year, Blackburn was given his second life achievement award by the Radio Academy - the only person to have received the honour twice.

Licence, surely, to blow his own trumpet?

'I think I'll put this painting right near my front door so that everyone has to admire it on the way in,' he laughs.

  • Performer in a Portrait, Radio 2, June 19

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