A veteran BBC journalist and broadcaster has been forced to resign after accidentally playing a 1932 version of the song ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ which contains the ‘n-word’ – widely believed to be offensive to black people – after just one complaint.
The news of the dismissal came just a week after BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson was found to have mumbled the word on camera during a Top Gear segment that was never broadcast. Clarkson kept his lucrative job at the BBC while DJ David Lowe, 67, was asked to ‘fall on his sword’ to resolve the issue.
The Telegraph reported that Lowe, a broadcaster for BBC Radio Devon, played a 1932 version of ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ which contained the line “he’s been tanning n****rs out in Timbuktu”, on April 27th 2014.
One listener is known to have complained about the incident, and Mr Lowe offered either to apologise on air or resign. The BBC initially asked him, per his offer, to “fall on his sword”, but has now stated he can have his job back.
Mr Lowe wrote on his blog, “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”.
“…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.”
“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.”
While the BBC has offered Mr Lowe his job back, the DJ is said to be too stressed by the BBC’s decision to return to work.
A BBC spokesperson 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.”
LBC Radio Show Host Iain Dale reflected on the issue in a blogpost entitled, ‘It shouldn’t happen to a radio presenter’:
“What a way for the BBC to treat someone with 30 years’ dedicated service,” said Dale. “There are clear guidelines on the use of this word. It’s not that it is absolutely verboten, but as a presenter you may only use it in specific contexts… he’s told the BBC where they can stick it, and you can hardly blame him”.