GMB: Tony Blackburn asked about ‘changes’ in BBC
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Tony Blackburn has revealed he once hung up on Frank Sinatra after thinking it was a “joke”. The DJ had met the jazz crooner the night before through his agent Harold Davison at a concert.
Tony shared: “One time I picked it up and a voice goes, ‘Hi, it’s Sinatra. Can you play me a record?’.
“I was like, ‘Oh yeah, very funny,’ and hung up. I thought someone was having a joke, but it was actually Frank.
“My manager told me there aren’t many people who put the phone down on Sinatra,” Tony added to Radio Times.
He revealed how the pair came into contact through their mutual agent who secured him a job working on BBC radio in the 60s.
Tony told the Yorkshire Post: “I met an agent called Harold Davison, the biggest agent in the country.
“He handled people like Sinatra and all the big names for America, and he told me the BBC was going to open up a popular music service.
“He said, if you sign with me, I can make you the top disc jockey in the country in three months.
“So I thought about it… for about two seconds. Harold and I got on like a house on fire; he became like my second father really. And I joined what became Radio 1 and it was a really, really happy time. “
Frank died on May 14, 1998, after he suffered a heart attack in Los Angeles, at the age of 82.
The singer had emerged from an Italian-American family in Hoboken, New Jersey, to become the first modern superstar of popular music, with an entertainment career that spanned more than five decades.
While Tony has expanded his DJ career over the years by making appearances on shows such as I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
He recently claimed that the show has been made increasingly harder over the years.
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The BBC star won the first series of the reality show back in 2002 and spoke on the difficulty of the Bushtucker Trials.
Tony said: “The show has developed massively over the decades, but some of the challenges remain the same.
“There will always be hunger, sleep deprivation and boredom, and there’s very little privacy from the cameras.
“Our Bushtucker Trials were very sedate in comparison, though.
“Now it’s like torture.”
He continued: “Watching celebrities put themselves through hell is one of the show’s highlights, but they are far more intimidating and tougher now than they were – and it’s all in the name of entertainment.”
Tony also reflected on his own time on the show, calling it an “experiment in reality TV”.
“We really didn’t know what to expect, or even anticipate just how popular the show would become,” he told The Sun.
You can read the full interview with Tony Blackburn in this week’s Radio Times out now.
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