TV Cream

Radio 1: The Jocks


"Fun photo shoots are my *stocking* trade!"FORMER RADIO LONDON PIRATE (wherein began long-running feud with John Peel) who became the first ever Radio 1 DJ bar none, whose dulcet tones and perma-slightly sloping hairstyle introduced The Move’s Flowers In The Rain all those years ago. Never really shifted from bog-standard, down-the-line, Transatlantic-accented ‘pop’ persona, except for late seventies interlude when he repeatedly blubbed down the microphone because his missus, Tessa ‘Robin’s Nest’ Wyatt, dumped him. Shunted to Weekend Breakfasts in the eighties, along with his solitary gimmick – Arnold The Dog, a tape loop of some poor Radiophonic Workshop underling scraping the inside of a dustbin in an attempt to create a barking dog sound (why they couldn’t just use a tape of a real dog has never been satisfactorarily explained), and a hastily roped-in Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin to helm a Junior Choice revival (Captain Bastard Beaky first sighted here). Such reckless overmanning meant something had to give, and a sideways move to the Top Forty was rapidly followed by his departure for pastures Commercial Radio.



  1. Glenn A

    November 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    After he quit Radio 1, for some mysterious reason- possibly to get a bigger audience for his local radio shows- started telling interviewers that Radio 1 was old fashioned and should be closed down and that pop music radio should only be local. Yeah, Tony, try listening to CFM in Cumbria for a week and you’d soon change your tune,

  2. TV Cream

    November 15, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    It’s just a hunch, but perhaps Tony was “encouraged” in his decision to “quit”?

  3. Glenn A

    November 15, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Hi TV Cream
    I think he was a bit bored with the slot he was given, which was basically a Junior Choice Mark 2, and wanted out. However, he did seem to have a go at Radio 1 a lot after this as he saw it as old fashioned and irrelevant.

  4. Angryhead

    November 16, 2009 at 3:04 am

    I used to love the kiddies show he presented with ‘Swap Shoppers’ Maggie Philbin and Keith Chegwin.
    After quitting Radio 1 he enjoyed a rare but brief spell during the mid to late eighties as a sort of UK Soul / Funk music Godfather when he hosted his very popular Soul music shows on Capital (or was it some other London station?). He became a respected figure amongst hip young clubbers and Soul fanatics. Alas, this didn’t last long and he soon succumbed to appearing in Glam Rock costumes at cheesey nightclubs for the pleasure of pissed-up ‘chavs’.

  5. Angryhead

    November 16, 2009 at 3:05 am

    P.S…. can I just point out that he was the definitive Top 40 host on Radio 1.

  6. wilberforce

    August 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Don’t forget Tony was also an aspiring pop singer (and I believe actually had a few records released) before becoming successful as a DJ.
    I don’t know if it was an unhappy accident or an intentional ruse, but one of his singles released under a pseudonym became a big favourite of the ultra-elitist Northern Soul crowd, who were apparently none too pleased when they found out who the singer actually really was…

    I listened to Tony’s London radio show in the eighties when he re-invented himself as a soul DJ (yes, hard to believe but he was actually quite credible at that point), and saw him a decade later when he started milking the 70’s disco revival scene – his entire act seemed to consist of swirling a huge medallion around the back of his head, which was quite amusing at first, but not so when he was still doing it 20 minutes later (a bit like Bez from Happy Mondays in that respect)…

    One more thing about Tony: in recent years he has seemingly been wearing the most appallingly obvious toupee ever manufactured. Even in his younger days his overly-neat hairstyle seemed a tad suspicious – has he always worn a wig?
    If they haven’t already done so, perhaps TVC should start up a section called “Celebrity Syrups”?

  7. Richard Davies

    August 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    My Dad remembers him championing Diana Ross’s I’m Still Waiting until Motown eventually released it as a single, & it got to Number 1.

    He might have done the same with Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’s Tears Of A Clown the year before.

  8. johnnyblue

    December 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    As shite as Blackburn’s show was in the ’60’s/70’s he does actually make the perfect host for Pick Of The Pops now even though he appears to be telling the same jokes as he did back then. He did indeed have a pop career in the early ’60’s and released several singles (all shit). His live backing band consisting at various times of fellow Bournemouth musicians Bob Fripp (of King Crimson) Al Stewart ( singer of ’70’s mega-hit Year Of The Cat and various other hit albums) and Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and singer/co-composer of solo mega-hit I Believe In Father Christmas) Also I’m pretty sure I remember John Peel confessing in the ’70’s or ’80’s that he had a lot of respect for Blackburn, particularly because of his knowledge of Soul Music.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    March 24, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Tony sort of revived Junior Choice, which was becoming old fashioned and irrelevant by the start of the eighties, by bringing in a zoo format( a few years before Steve Wright), scrapping many of the dated sounding children’s records that most children didn’t like, and asking listeners to write in about issues that concerned them like unemployment and corporal punishment in schools. When he left Radio 1 and Junior Choice was dropped, he probably left a template for Peter Powell to continue with a contemporary programme for younger listeners.

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