Radio legend Tony Blackburn, 81, jokes he’ll keep going until he beats Sir Cliff Richard

By Staff

DJ Tony Blackburn has joked that he will keep presenting until he beats Sir Cliff Richard as he was made an OBE in recognition of his long career. The 81-year-old was honoured for his services to broadcasting and charity by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

He was named in the King’s New Year Honours list late last year, and will celebrate 60 years of working at BBC and commercial radio stations in July. Asked what has kept him in the role for so long, Blackburn pointed to his enthusiasm for radio and “a deep love of music”.

He told the PA news agency: “I’m 81 one now but I still don’t feel 81 I don’t want to retire. And also, the thing that keeps me going is Cliff Richard is three years older than I am!”

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“I said that (he can’t beat me) to him the other day… As long as he keeps going, I’ll keep going.” Blackburn became the first DJ on BBC Radio 1 when it launched in 1967 and went on to present a series of high-profile radio and TV shows, including Top Of The Pops.

He also won the first series of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! in 2002.

Asked about his conversation with Anne when receiving his OBE, Blackburn said he had met the princess before, at the Royal Palladium, and that she is “one of the royals I admire”.

“She asked me if I’d been here before, and I have I’ve done disco here actually! She said ‘I haven’t had many people say that’.”

“I did a disco here when I did I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! one of the producers got married here.”

Blackburn said working on pirate radio stations including Radio Caroline in the 1960s was a real highlight of his career, and that the secret to a good radio show is having fun and playing the right music.

He said streaming services such as BBC Sounds are the future of radio because listeners are “not tied down to a particular time”, while he admitted he wants to be at BBC Radio 2 when he does eventually decide to retire.

“People are restricted, they have to play the same records, the dreaded playlist, the same 300 records over and over again.”

“I spend a lot of time compiling mine, and I don’t have to sit through a song I don’t believe that the listener wants to hear and a lot of DJs do, so I’m in a quite a privileged position.”

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