Tony Blackburn to return to the BBC in 2017

Tony Blackburn is returning to Radio 2 and BBC Local Radio, less than a year after being sacked from all his BBC programmes.

The former Pick of the Pops host will present the Friday night 7pm slot from January, which is due to be vacated by the retiring Desmond Carrington later this month.

Tony left the BBC in February after Director General said his evidence to the Dame Janet Smith inquiry did not match the corporation’s version of events. Since then he has continued to present on commercial stations including KMFM and Bauer’s Greatest Hits network. He also began shows for Thames Radio on DAB in London and Dragon Radio in Wales this year.

Before his dismissal, Tony presented shows on BBC Local stations including Radio London, Radio Berkshire and Three Counties Radio.

The BBC says it stands by the findings of Dame Janet Smith and the decision it made to take Tony Blackburn off air at the start of this year, based on Dame Janet’s preference for the documentary evidence relating to meetings that took place over Tony’s statements. The corporation added that Tony, for his part, stands by his statements to Dame Janet Smith but recognises that the BBC considered a period off air was appropriate.

Tony said in a statement: “I do not seek to criticise the BBC for decisions it has made in the past. I’ve had a difficult year personally, but I’m pleased to be returning to the BBC and can’t wait to get behind the mic again.”

After his dismissal in February, Tony had planned to sue the BBC – it seems now that the legal action will not continue. He was given a second lifetime achievement Gold Award at the Radio Academy Awards in 2014, marking his 50 years on the air.

Tony had no further comment to make today, but posted a message of thanks on Twitter to those sending kind tweets to him.

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