I’ve never been a fan of Tony Blackburn: the relentless smiling got on my nerves and the anodyne humour made me groan. But he always seemed like a good bloke. When I heard about Jimmy Savile it shocked me to the core but didn’t surprise me; I didn’t find it too startling that ‘cuddly’ Dave Lee Travis might have taken his cuddles too far. Even Stuart Hall’s style kinda fitted with possible abuses. But Blackburn? Surely not. It didn’t seem to add up. And I have to say, having heard the guy speak on Radio 4 I am even less convinced by the evidence against him which seems to amount to hearsay and a complaint once made and previously abandoned.
Questioned in depth about these things, he expressed sorrow for the suicide of the girl involved and maintained his innocence without once attempting to blacken the names of any who had accused him. His protesting never seemed too much and so I have to say I’m convinced – or as convinced as anyone can be who wasn’t there and doesn’t know him – that he is innocent. It seems the BBC have gone from believing no-one to believing everyone; from covering up or ignoring horrific abuses to hauling everyone accused before an inquiry and seeming to presume that they are guilty. In other words, they have gone from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt, and neither of these is the way to go. And like so many of these affairs, they’re doing it for all the wrong reasons; because they want to be seen to do something. Of course, if you’re going to err on one side rather than the other then there’s no contest; if you weigh a DJ’s career and reputation against the life of a young girl then it’s clear which is worth more. But why err at all? Is it not possible to examine these things impartially? Or at least to try?
I feel for Tony Blackburn – I really do. But listen for yourself: it’s close to the beginning.