My haven: DJ Tony Blackburn, 69, unwinds in the conservatory of the London home he shares with his wife Debbie
21:33 GMT, 28 September 2012
Tony Blackburn in the conservatory in his Hertfordshire home
This is a sketch of the MV Galaxy, the Second World War Navy vessel from where the likes of Kenny Everett, Ed Stewart and myself presented Radio London. I began broadcasting on pirate station Radio Caroline in July 1964, then went to Radio London in early 1966. ‘Big L’ was the best radio station this country’s ever had. It’s the one many others have modelled themselves on because it was the first to use American-style jingles.
In the early 60s I was singer and guitarist with a dance band playing foxtrots and quicksteps at the Bournemouth Pavilion, and I also had a group called the Swinging Bells. This is my Hofner guitar. I can still play it, but I haven’t in ages because it hurts my fingers. Performing was great, and it meant I wasn’t fazed later when I did things like Radio 1 Roadshows, but since I became a DJ I’ve never wanted to be a singer again.
KING OF THE JUNGLE
In 2002 I wore this hat while taking part in the first series of I’m A Celebrity… Debbie tried to talk me out of doing the show, but I fell in love with the rainforest and was voted King Of The Jungle. When I asked the director if anyone had been watching, he replied, ‘Put it this way, I have a job for life and it’ll change your career.’ Later in London, a man in his 80s said to me, ‘You’ve done our age group a lot of good!’ It brought a tear to my eye.
This vinyl single, Flowers In The Rain by The Move, is the original record I opened up Radio 1 with in September 1967. I chose it because of the crashing noise at the start and it’s a very lively record. It was presented to me in this frame in October 1984 ‘to mark 17 years of distinguished broadcasting on Radio 1’. It must be priceless now – it’s part of broadcasting history – but I’m never going to part with it.
Over the years I’ve won around 30 awards, but the one I treasure most is this 1989 Sony Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution To Radio. They must have thought I wasn’t going to last much longer! It’s lovely – the top award you can get. I don’t know what my enduring appeal is, but I hope it includes not taking myself too seriously, making people laugh, and above all remaining very enthusiastic about everything I do.
I first met Debbie in 1982 when she was a dancer in a panto I appeared in. Years later we met again when I saw her in a musical. I asked her for lunch and we’ve been together ever since. As I’d been married before we weren’t allowed a church wedding, so we married at Chelsea Register Office, and this year we celebrate our 20th anniversary. Our teenage daughter Victoria is not only the apple of my eye, she’s also a very good singer.