Login Register

Veteran BBC radio broadcaster forced to quit for playing a song containing the 'n-word'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 11, 2014

Veteran radio presenter David Lowe has been forced to resign for accidentally playing a song containing the N-Word

Comments (25)

A veteran radio presenter has been forced to resign from the BBC after he accidentally played a song containing the N-word.

BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe, 67, who whose weekly show was broadcast on Radio Gloucestershire, innocently played 'The Sun Has Got Its Hat On', unaware the racist term was used.

And in an ironic twist, he only aired the 1932 tune because he thought the original request would offend his listeners.

The broadcaster, who has had a 32-year career, only realised the song he played contained the N-word when a friend sent him a private message on Facebook.

Related content

He has now found himself embroiled in the BBC's second race row in less than a fortnight, following the Jeremy Clarkson N-word incident.

But while Clarkson got away with a final warning, David, who presents the 'Singers and Swingers' show on BBC Radio Devon, was encouraged by email to "fall on his own sword".

Mr Lowe, from Torquay, said: "When I was told about the word, I thought 'goodness gracious me'. My heart was in my mouth.

"I must have played the song half a dozen times over the years and had never heard that word.

"I said to the person who told me about the song that political correctness will be the death of me and if I'm not on my next show you'll know why.

"Twenty-four hours later, all hell broke loose. Someone at the BBC said 'David, don't you check the lyrics of songs? It's so ironic it's amusing."

The BBC received one complaint following the show on April 27. Shocked at the situation, David told his bosses he would like to apologise on air or resign.

He was told not to apologise and, after a series of emails between the presenter and senior figures at the BBC, they told him to quit.

The email said: "I agree you have acted properly throughout and we are grateful for both your apology and your appreciation of the seriousness of the situation.

"But regrettably, I think we will have to accept your offer to fall on your sword to resolve this situation."

The BBC also asked David if they could say on air that he had left the station "to pursue other interests", an offer he declined.

David suffers dystonic tremor, a condition which causes a permanent shake, and the stress caused by the N-word episode has made the disability worse.

On Saturday, the BBC released a statement to the media saying they "could have handled the situation better" and had offered him his job back.

But when asked about this, David revealed he'd had no contact with the BBC.

He said: "That is news to me. I've not had any indication that the offer was on the table.

"The offer is appreciated, but these events have taken their toll on my disability and whether I get back to my pre-N word condition, I have to put my health first. I will say thank you but respectfully decline."

The whole incident started when an elderly woman sent a written request for David to play the song 'Abdul Abulbul Amir' for her husband's 80th birthday.

But David wasn't happy with the lyrics and, after speaking to his producer, decided to play The Sun Has Got Its Hat On.

He said: "I thought I'd avoid the earlier request and play it safe. I must have listened to it a hundred times and I've never heard the N-word.

"It's so ironic that I've ended up in a bigger trap of my own making."

It is the latest race row the BBC has been involved in after Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson was filmed appearing to mumble the N-word while filming his hit show.

Despite pressure to resign, the presenter apologised and was told by the BBC he was on his final warning.

But there were no second chances for Mr Lowe, who didn't even say the offending word.

Despite this, he refuses to criticise his former colleagues, instead blaming "the system".

He added: "My sympathies lie with the listeners. If my disability was better, I'd be in a better position to respond to the BBC's offer, but I've got to recover.

"I don't have any quarrels with my former colleagues. My issues are with the system which has compelled them to act as they did.

"It is quite topical at the moment with Jeremy Clarkson although I didn't actually say the word. Would it be different if I was Clarkson? I don't know."

Former colleagues had rallied around Mr Lowe, defending "the gentle giant" who has had an exemplary 32-year career.

Roy Corlett, his old boss, described the situation as "absolutely appalling".

He said: "I was the manager of Radio Devon until 1993 and I was David's boss, you couldn't meet a nicer person.

"It was an accident and for someone to lose their job is disgraceful. David was prepared to apologise

"It was hardly as if he screamed the word live on air, it was a word in a very old song.

"When you're Jeremy Clarkson you get a wrap on the knuckles, but when you're a local radio presenter you are forced to resign. I think it appalling.

"My reaction, if I was still manager, would have been to tell him to say sorry. To end your career in this fashion is awful.

"Local radio is very important to a lot of people and David will be very well known to many in Devon."

Read more from Gloucester Citizen

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters


  • Matt1006  |  May 13 2014, 8:27AM

    Just as well that The Dam Busters is never shown on the BBC, considering the name of Wing Commander Guy Gibson's dog - the Beeb would have a melt-down, or just cut all scenes / references with GG's dog. Channel 5 don't edit / censor the film at all when they show it, and aren't (as far as I'm aware) criticized for it.

    |   -53
  • Mike_Smith_Gl  |  May 13 2014, 12:31AM

    The ironic part about this was on a Facebook posting. Under it was "Related Posts" and a link to the very track. I wonder who is going to complain about that! Apparently, this was the original track by Ambrose and his Orchestra - later versions changed the word.

  • Ipaytax  |  May 12 2014, 10:47AM

    Try a search for ****** on Amazon for MP3 or CD. There are 68 results of either track names or artist names. Surely Amazon should be shut down immediately as it obviously supports extreme racism!! Yes, this is all a bit pathetic. It is an extremely abusive word when directed at someone It is a word that is now unacceptable in society But, that does not change history. Children are taught in school about slavery, Nazi atrocities and many other terrible periods in history. Why should a man be penalised for playing a song that contains ****** in the lyrics when it was unintentional and not intended to cause any offence. The PC brigade has gone too far and those in charge seem to scared to stand up to them

  • williams1978  |  May 12 2014, 10:20AM

    Sure BBC 1xtra are restricted to only a few songs then. This is political correctness gone mad. Its OK if certain people say the n word. However, wrong in other cases.

  • buffersyeoman  |  May 12 2014, 9:20AM

    I have listened to this programme for years. It WAS the best programme on local radio. This man is a gentleman and he shows so much compassion towards his listeners. This needs to go to the top. Clarkson said what is in his inner thoughts, David Lowe played a track of a record of 80 years or so. There is a great difference. IF THIS IS SO OFFENSIVE WHY IS IT IN THE ARCHIVES OF THE BBC ???1 As an indigenous of this country I am not racist, but this fiasco and the never ended tripe we have to put up with on a daily basis in this country I am quickly becoming one. This an successive governments are turning people like myself into racists. If you join our club you abide by OUR rules, if you did like the rules then you know what the answer is ! In the words of Aleksandr "simples".

  • raidermanuk  |  May 12 2014, 9:11AM

    SandraPee - they've gone nowhere, just been countered by the neg maniac who's got nothing better to do!

  • SandraPee  |  May 12 2014, 7:36AM

    Where have all the votes gone from the first few comments ......... they each had nearly 30 positive votes each ....... now they've gone back to ONE each ?!!!!!

  • honslknjklyt  |  May 11 2014, 11:57PM

    Namby pamby

  • emdia43  |  May 11 2014, 10:04PM

    He didn't realize that racism is not allowed unless it is anti- white, anti-British, anti-Christian.

  • JeremyBadger  |  May 11 2014, 9:53PM

    Nasty, Naïve, nonsensical, narrow minded, nit picking, nincompoops, negative,.............all N words describing the BBC and its left wing management, can you find more?