David Lowe, a radio presenter with the BBC for over 30 years has been fired for accidentally playing an 82 year old song with a bad word.
David played a song, which contains the “N” word, on his “Swingers and Singers” show two weeks ago and says BBC management thought it would be best if he left the station after a single complaint was received.
David blogs: “On April 27, I featured an 82 year old recording, one I’ve heard hundreds of times over the years, and even featured occasionally on my programmes. Unbeknown to me, however, that recording by Ambrose & His Orchestra of “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” contains a line of lyric that includes one of today’s ‘forbidden’ English language expressions … the “N” word! You’ve got to listen very carefully indeed to actually hear it but, yes, it is there on the recording.”
The presenter says he was alerted to the error by an email from BBC management who had, in turn, received a complaint from a listener who, by his own admission, never listened to the programme before.
He offered to apologise for the error on his next programme, which should have been tomorrow, or alternatively, fall on his sword for the mistake. His apology would have been: “I would like to apologise unreservedly to all of you, especially those who may have been offended by the track in question.”
After a series of emails, David says BBC management chose to let him go rather than allow him to say sorry. An email said: “Regrettably we will have to accept your offer to fall on your sword to resolve the situation.”
David adds: “On Tuesday May 6, I was asked if I would agree to a BBC Devon News item or other audio feature announcing my “departure to pursue other interests.” I respectfully declined the offer. I then decided to wait three more days, just in case the BBC changed its mind and agreed to my request to make an on-air apology to my listeners during the programme on May 11.”
UPDATE: The BBC confirms to RadioToday David has been offered his weekly show back, should he wish to continue. A spokesperson has said: “We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his “Singers and Swingers” show, and we would be happy to have him back on air. We accept that the conversation with David about the mistake could have been handled better but if he chooses not to continue then we would like to thank him for his time presenting on the station and wish him well for the future.”
UPDATE2: David Lowe has also posted a further update on his blog confirming he was offered to return to the show but has since declined.
David Lowe joined BBC Radio Devon in August 1990 but made his first radio programme for the BBC in October 1981.
The full blog from David is below:
AFTER more than 32 years of programme-making for the BBC and UK Independent Local Radio, I have hung-up my headphones for the last time. Why? Because I made a silly mistake. Yes, I know we all make mistakes, but where political correctness is concerned in UK today, there is no room for excuses or forgiveness. That said: let me stress here, I have no quarrel with anyone at the BBC in the West and South West. However, I do have issues with a repressive system that encourages wholly disproportionate reactions to innocent errors of judgement.
On April 27, I featured an 82 year old recording, one I’ve heard hundreds of times over the years, and even featured occasionally on my programmes. Unbeknown to me, however, that recording by Ambrose & His Orchestra of “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” contains a line of lyric that includes one of today’s ‘forbidden’ English language expressions … the “N” word! You’ve got to listen very carefully indeed to actually hear it but, yes, it is there on the recording.
I was alerted to my error by an email from the BBC management who had, in turn, received a complaint from a listener who, by his own admission, never listened to my programmes, but just happened to switch-on his radio sometime after 8 pm on Sunday April, 27.
Suffice it to say, the listener in question was “horrified” by what he heard, and added, “I hope that someone in authority will deal with Mr Young appropriately.” (He referred to me as David Young throughout his email, a copy of which was forwarded to me with the BBC complaint alert). By the way, I know of no other complaint. Of course, there may have been others, but none have yet come to my attention via post, email, Facebook, Twitter or on my Blog.
Nevertheless, I admitted my mistake immediately after listening closely to the ‘offending’ track. I then apologised to my BBC managers, and offered to apologise to the listeners at the beginning of, and again during, my programme on May 11. Alternatively, I offered to fall on my sword.
A series of emails between myself and the BBC ensued over the following few days, including one which stated, “We would prefer that you don’t mention anything about last week’s broadcast.” In the end, the BBC wrote to say, “Regrettably … we will have to accept your offer to fall on your sword to resolve the situation.”
So, first and foremost, here’s what I would have said on-air on May 11, had I been granted the opportunity of doing so: “I would like to apologise unreservedly to all of you, especially those who may have been offended by the track in question.”
Unfortunately, this was a genuine error on my part … the first of its kind I made in my 32 years of broadcasting … but, given today’s unforgiving obsession with political correctness, I have been compelled to pay the ultimate price.
Sadly, many thousands of BBC listeners have now been deprived of a programme they have come to look-forward to each week, while I’m left to ponder this: how can one oversight on my part, followed by one email complaint (that I know of), have such a negative impact on the lives so many innocent people? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that this regrettable episode provides proof of the damaging effect political correctness in all its pernicious forms is having on British society today?
Sorry folks, but I made a stupid mistake and I was left with no other option but to fall on my sword. In closing, however, let me say this: it has been an honour to entertain you for so many years, and I thank each and every one of you for your support for my efforts.
PS: If you’re unable or unwilling to leave a public comment on this Blog, but you’d still like to contact me, please feel free to email me privately at email@example.com.