Tony pledges to go on forever

Tony Blackburn
Tony Blackburn
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AS ANYONE who has seen his cameo role in the recently released, almost-straight-to-DVD, Kill Keith will be relieved to hear, Tony Blackburn promises: “I could never give up broadcasting.”

The household name is still on air at 69 and couldn’t be happier about it.

“I’ve fulfilled all my goals,” he says. “I’ve been very lucky. My career highlights were being on the pirate stations Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg, being the first broadcaster on Radio 1 in 1967, and winning the first I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! in 2002.”

He landed his “dream job” on Radio 2 two years ago and says his ambition now is to simply enjoy doing what he loves, and he refuses to contemplate retiring.

“I couldn’t face getting up in the morning and having nothing to do” he says.

He played himself in the horror-comedy Kill Keith – which was briefly released in selected cinemas last winter – alongside presenter Keith Chegwin.

He said: “Keith is a great friend. I’ve known him for many years. He asked me to star in a film where I would get electrocuted, so I agreed. I like variety. It’s a break from broadcasting, although I do love talking rubbish on the radio.”

The movie tagline describes it as: ‘Saw Meets Richard and Judy’ and the plot sees TV personalities being gruesomely dispatched one by one by the mysterious Breakfast Cereal Killer. It also stars Joe Tracini from Hollyoaks and Gazette astrologer Russell Grant.

“I still get offered a lot of work – it’s very flattering,” says Tony who broadcasts on BBC London 94.9 on Sundays from noon to 2pm, presents on the KMFM radio stations and on BBC Radio 2’s Pick of the Pops every Saturday from 1 to 3pm.

“I’m in a very happy position. It’s just perfect. I love broadcasting. I could never give it up. It’s great to work on such an iconic show, on the biggest radio station and to be part of the talented Saturday line up. You’ve got Brian Matthews, who is 85, the tremendous Graham Norton; a lovely guy, and Dermot O’Leary. Everyone on the station is full of personality. Radio 2 is just special. I’m a great lover of the BBC. I don’t think people appreciate it fully these days. It is terrific value for money.”

He may be approaching 70, but he embraces technology.

“The changes in the industry have made it difficult for commercial radio. The ability to record shows and access them on demand has revolutionised the way we watch and listen. I used to get 20 million listeners in the 60s, now there are far less. The old days of high audience numbers are long gone, but I still enjoy it.”

He downloads music and has eagerly got on board with social networking: “I like Twitter. It’s a great way of getting close and connecting with your audience, and another way of self-promotion. I’m very technically minded, I love new gadgets.

“I’ve always been ambitious and a hard worker. The key is never to go for second best. If you want something, you should go for it.”

n Kill Keith is available for purchase on DVD now.