Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Programme Information

Network Radio BBC Week 45
Pick Of The Pops feature – Tony Blackburn interview

It's poptastic!

New BBC Radio 2 DJ and BBC veteran Tony Blackburn

Pick Of The Pops

Saturday 6 November on BBC RADIO 2

As legendary broadcaster Tony Blackburn clung to the rocking mast of Radio Caroline and took a tentative peek down at the North Sea far below, little did he suspect what dizzy heights his career would reach in future years.

At the age of 21, in 1964, the Radio Caroline DJ responded to a £25 bet and scaled the mast of the pirate radio ship – a scene detailed to comic effect in the 2009 Richard Curtis movie, The Boat That Rocked.

Today, at the age of 67 – 46 years on – the legendary broadcaster, who opened BBC Radio 1 in 1967, and was crowned king of the I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! jungle in 2002, returns to BBC Radio to host BBC Radio 2's Saturday retrospective chart count-down, Pick Of The Pops.

"Coming to BBC Radio 2 is a dream come true for me," Tony tells Catharine Davey. "Returning to a national radio station is terrific. I'm a great admirer of BBC Radio 2 – it is the station that I listen to. And to be a part of the team that has got so many fantastic broadcasters on it is great. BBC Radio 2 is deservedly the biggest station in Europe and the most listened to station in the UK."

Each week, Pick Of The Pops takes a look at the music releases from that week in a particular year – ranging from 1960 to the present day. Pick Of The Pops was first broadcast on the BBC Light Programme in 1955, transferring to BBC Radio 1 from 1967.

"Pick Of The Pops is such an iconic show! I was very friendly with 'Fluff' Freeman – who presented it for many years," says Tony, referring to veteran broadcaster Alan Freeman. "We used to meet up for Sunday lunch every week and then I'd go off and do the Top 40 on Radio 1. 'Fluff' was a great DJ! I just hope I can do Pick Of The Pops as well as he did."

Tony has long been associated with BBC Radio, most recently presenting the UK's million sellers chart on BBC Radio 2 over the August Bank Holiday weekend. He also continues to present The Best Of Soul And Motown on Sunday lunchtimes for BBC London.

"Radio is radio," he says. "I've now worked on so many different stations and in so many different styles. But I'm a great admirer of BBC Radio. In my opinion, it's the best value for money going! Most of my listening and viewing is on the BBC."

Talking of more than four decades of broadcasting experience, Tony modestly puts it all down to chance.

"I've been very lucky," he says. "I realised that Radio Caroline would change the whole of broadcasting – and it did. And, likewise, I recognised how huge BBC Radio 1 was going to be. I was a Radio 1 DJ for 17 years. Radio 2 is the natural progression – it's just taken me a while to get there! I love the people at Radio 2 – Steve Wright and Ken Bruce, I've known for a long time. I feel I'll be among the broadcasters I've always wanted to work alongside."

Tony claims that he couldn't pick a favourite week of pop – let alone a decade.

"I like all the decades," says Tony. "I like the Sixties very much but I also like the music that comes out today. I've got a 13-year-old daughter and a 37-year-old son and I would never, ever say to them: 'They don't write songs like they used to!' The music of today is terrific! I like Beyoncé, I like The Saturdays and I particularly like soul music. Some of the modern soul acts around at the moment are just tremendous."

With a clearly defined radio personality – honed over his lengthy broadcasting career – Mr Poptastic is unsurprisingly a fan of "personality radio".

"I don't see any point in radio stations booking known DJs and not letting them show their individual characters," he says. "I'm not interested in a station that says: 'More music – less chat!' Jeremy Vine entertains, Ken Bruce makes me laugh; I like personality radio. BBC Radio 2 is a personality station."

Harking back to the days of Radio Caroline, Tony explains why it was so exciting to be a part of the pirate station.

"Pirate radio – being out on the North Sea – it was terrific!" he laughs. "It was pioneering radio! I was learning the trade. And I was there for three years. And we were allowed to experiment out there. I loved it! The Boat That Rocked didn't quite paint an accurate picture of those years. If it had really been like that, then we'd all still be out there!"

As ever, steering a steady course through the rocky waters of Radio broadcasting, Tony Blackburn admits that his plans for the future are all about making Pick Of The Pops his own as he takes over presenting the show from Dale Winton.

"I suppose what I want to do is to put my own stamp on Pick Of The Pops," says Tony. "I am doing it from the BBC studios at Western House – because I want to be a part of the station. Doing it live is really important to me because I can respond to listeners in a more immediate way."

To top

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.