A man who claimed to be a 1960s pirate radio disc jockey has been challenged as a fake live on BBC radio.
“Mark Dean” appeared on “The Late Show” on BBC Radio Lancashire and BBC Radio Manchester, taking calls from listeners and talking about his career.
In a live interview broadcast over 90 minutes on Thursday, he told presenter Alison Butterworth that he’d spent two years aboard Radio Caroline North, staying with the station until it closed down.
It later emerged that his only connection with the station was that he drove a van carrying equipment for the Radio Caroline Roadshow, a mobile disco run by fans in the 1970s.
During the interview, the supposed DJ said the ship was called the Mi Amigo (the name of sister station Radio Caroline South), he worked with Kenny Everett (who worked for rival pirate Radio London), had never met senior presenter Bob Stewart (who was a fixture on the station) and he stayed on air till it closed in 1967 (it shut down in 1968 having defied the Marine Offences Act which outlawed the pirates).
The alarm was raised by BBC Local Radio’s Political Correspondent Paul Rowley who was listening to the programme.
“Everything he said was either hazy or wrong” said Paul, who had listened to Caroline North as a schoolboy and compiled a radio documentary about the station “The Other Radio Caroline” which won silver in the Frank Gillard Awards for Original Journalism in 2009.
“So I e-mailed Alison Butterworth during the show, and she put me on air.
“I told Mark Dean that no one of his name had ever worked on Radio Caroline, I asked him pretty simple questions about the history of the station, and he didn’t seem to know the answers.
“I put it to him that he’d never broadcast on the ship, and he insisted he had. I cross-examined him live on air, and he continued to get basic facts wrong.
“So I challenged him to admit he was making it up. He maintained he was genuine, so I put it to him bluntly that he was a ‘phoney’ and a ‘fake’.
Eventually, someone emerged who knew “Mark Dean”, although that wasn’t his name.
And he wasn’t 71 as he claimed. He was 57, which meant he would have been 9 years old when he started broadcasting.
One of the organisers of the Radio Caroline Roadshow contacted Facebook saying that “Mark” had driven a van and moved equipment for them in the late 70s : “He is a good hearted guy who did lots of charity work but unfortunately a total dreamer. I intend to contact him and complain bitterly”.
“The Late Show” has subsequently made several attempts to speak to him without success.
On Monday the programme repeated the exchange and made an on-air appeal for him to confess.
Former Caroline South DJ Tom Edwards contacted the show.
“I squirmed when I listening to the programme because the man was obviously lying” said Tom who was on Radio 1 and 2 in a broadcasting career lasting several decades.
“First I was quite angry but now I quite sad that someone would want to lie about being a disc-jockey on Radio Caroline.
“He was never on Caroline North and he has upset a lot of friends of mine who we call ‘anoraks’ who know more about pirate radio than I can remember and I was actually there !”
Alison Butterworth admits she had her suspicions after Mark had been booked to appear after he recently took part in a phone-in on 60s music when he claimed to have been a “pirate” at the time.
“What is astonishing is that in 25 years of live broadcasting I have never met someone who was so adamant that what they said was true when it wasn’t. He didn’t flinch, he didn’t blush when he was confronted.”.
Psychologist Phil Tyson who heard the exchange told the programme that Mark probably believes he was on Caroline :
“It’s a tragedy really. My heart’s going out to him. Why does somebody need to do that ? Is it in order to get a little bit of attention or notoriety ? We all lie to ourselves a little bit. It’s perfectly normal.
“Some people develop a bubble of mistruth which they then move into and inhabit, and if that’s not tallying with reality it causes them some level of distress.
“This is a guy who has had many years of peddling his mistruths and dealing with other people challenging them so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s got a really thick skin.”
The exchanges have also promoted a light-heard spoof on Youtube.