Summer holiday after Tony Blackburn is suspended over Cliff

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The Independent Online

Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn was suspended from his radio show today for rebelling against his bosses and repeatedly playing Cliff Richard records.

Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn was suspended from his radio show today for rebelling against his bosses and repeatedly playing Cliff Richard records.

Following a warning at the beginning of the week not to play any more Cliff songs, Blackburn's bosses at Classic Gold Digital fired off a furious email to the presenter telling him that the clean-cut pop singer did not match the station's brand values.

Blackburn, 61, responded by tearing up the warning live on air yesterday morning and defiantly played two Cliff hits back to back: "We Don't Talk Any More" and "Living Doll".

Within minutes the former Radio 1 presenter was suspended from the station.

A friend of Blackburn said yesterday: "Tony is gutted he has been suspended over this. He has been told not to turn up for work tomorrow.

"He doesn't set the playlist for his show, the station does.

"But he defied the management because so many listeners have requested Cliff tracks. Cliff has fans young and old who love to hear his records. Tony hopes the situation can be resolved so he can get back to his show."

Problems began on Monday when Blackburn was called into a meeting and warned not to play any more Cliff songs.The next day he played "Summer Holiday" - sparking an email row with head of programmes Paul Baker.

"We shouldn't be playing Cliff Richard," Mr Baker wrote. "We might carry out research on him, but for now we have a policy decision that he doesn't match our brand values.

"He's not on the playlist, and you must stop playing him."

Receiving requests from the public was "not an excuse" for playing Cliff, he added.

This morning Blackburn hit back by reading the email live on air at 8.20am. Then he tore it up, threw it in the bin and played two more Cliff records.

John Baish, the managing director of Classic Gold emailed him immediately, warning: "This is really serious now."

He followed it up with an email confirming Blackburn's suspension. "You're consistently breaking the station's music policy. We've made our position as clear as we could. I've got no option except to suspend you until the situation can be resolved," he said.

Cliff Richards was recently named by Channel 4 as the UK's biggest-selling artist.

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