Veteran BBC radio presenter slams bosses live on air after his popular show was axed


A veteran BBC radio presenter has slammed the corporation live on-air after his popular show was axed. 

David Allen criticised bosses during his show on BBC Radio Solent on Saturday and said he was ‘rather shocked’ when he was told of plans to cancel his long-running programme. 

The radio presenter, who has hosted the three-hour slot for 20 years, claimed the show’s chiefs made the decision because his elderly audience, the majority of whom are over-75, were ‘the wrong type of listeners’.

Mr Allen’s criticism comes as the BBC faces ongoing ageism allegations after a number of popular presenters were ditched in recent years as part of a wider shake-up. 

BBC radio presenter David Allen criticised bosses during his show on BBC Radio Solent on Saturday and said he was ‘rather shocked’ that his show had been axed

During his show, Mr Allen described his confusion at the decision to scrap his show as his audience share was ‘nearly three times that of Radio 2’.

He said: ‘I’ve got some sad news about this show.

‘The BBC, in its wisdom, have decided that after 20 years and amazingly good listening figures, that this show will sadly come to an end on May 15.

‘Although I never normally talk about how popular this show is, the audience share for this programme is the best on the station.

‘It is also nearly three times that of Radio 2 and over four times that of any commercial radio station in our transmission area.

‘So, I have to say I was rather shocked when I was told about the decision.

‘I know how much this programme means to you and I can’t tell you how many emails and letters I get every week telling me how much you love the music that we play and the interviews that we do on the show.

‘More to the point that there’s nowhere else on the BBC where you can hear this type of music played. 

The BBC presenter went on to say that while he had not been given an ‘adequate explanation’ on why his show had been axed he could only assume he had the ‘wrong type of listeners’. 

He continued: ‘I have to be honest with you, I’ve not really had an adequate explanation why this programme is being axed, apart form the fact that they kind of want to go in a different direction. 

Mr Allen described his confusion at the decision by BBC bosses and said his audience share was 'nearly three times that of Radio 2'. (Stock image)

 Mr Allen described his confusion at the decision by BBC bosses and said his audience share was ‘nearly three times that of Radio 2’. (Stock image)

The veteran broadcaster urged anyone who wanted to complain to email him rather than the managers

The veteran broadcaster urged anyone who wanted to complain to email him rather than the managers

‘I can only assume that, although I have lots of listeners, they are the wrong type of listeners which I think is very sad and short-sighted.

‘We have listeners on this show from all ages from 15 to 101.

David Allen’s full speech on BBC Radio Solent

I’ve got some sad news about this show.

The BBC, in its wisdom, have decided that after 20 years and amazingly good listening figures, that this show will sadly come to an end on May 15.

Although I never normally talk about how popular this show is, the audience share for this programme is the best on the station.

It is also nearly three times that of Radio 2 and over four times that of any commercial radio station in our transmission area.

So I have to say I was rather shocked when I was told about their decision.

I know how much this programme means to you and I can’t tell you how many emails and letters I get every week telling me how much you love the music that we play and the interviews that we do on the show and more to the point that there’s nowhere else on the BBC where you can hear this type of music played.

I have to be honest with you, I’ve not really had an adequate explanation why this programme is being axed, apart form the fact that they kind of want to go in a different direction.

I can only assume that, although I have lots of listeners, they are the wrong type of listeners which I think is very sad and short-sighted.

We have listeners on this show from all ages from 15 to 101.

But, I guess the majority are the older age group, that’s the over 75s, who now have to pay their licence fee, so surely it’s not too much to ask to have one programme in the week that caters for them and their musical choices. 

After all, this is a request show, so if you, the listener, only wanted to hear the current top 40 that is what I would play, but obviously that is not the case and let’s be honest a request show is the only true indication of what listeners want to hear.

There’s so much great music from all eras and it seems rather strange that radio stations only want to play a limited range.

I know that many of you will be disappointed and incensed by this decision and will want to know you to complain to. Well  there’s no point in emailing the managers of the station because they made the decision. I would suggest you email me and I will pass them on.

As I say this was not my decision. I will be very sad to leave this show and the BBC after so many years but most of all I will miss you the listener who have been so kind and supportive to this show and myself over the years. I’ve truly valued the friendship that we’ve shared.

‘But, I guess the majority are the older age group, that’s the over 75s, who now have to pay their licence fee, so surely it’s not too much to ask to have one programme in the week that caters for them and their musical choices. 

‘After all, this is a request show, so if you, the listener, only wanted to hear the current top 40 that is what I would play, but obviously that is not the case and let’s be honest a request show is the only true indication of what listeners want to hear.

‘There’s so much great music from all eras and it seems rather strange that radio stations only want to play a limited range.’

Mr Allen also urged anyone who wanted to complain to email him rather than the managers who made the decision.

The presenter said: ‘I know that many of you will be disappointed and incensed by this decision and will want to know you to complain to. 

‘Well there’s no point in emailing the managers of the station because they made the decision. I would suggest you email me and I will pass them on.

‘As I say this was not my decision. 

‘I will be very sad to leave this show and the BBC after so many years but most of all I will miss you the listener who have been so kind and supportive to this show and myself over the years. I’ve truly valued the friendship that we’ve shared.’   

Mr Allen made the announcement on-air after playing listeners the 1956 hit Why Do Fools Fall in Love by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers. 

A BBC spokesman told MailOnline: ‘All stations make changes to their line-up from time to time to better serve audiences. 

‘We hope to work with David again in the future and thank him for all he has done in this slot.’ 

On its website, BBC Radio Solent said of his Saturday night show: ‘Staying in on a Saturday night is definitely the new ‘going out’ – especially when you’ve got David Allen to tune into.’

Mr Allen, from Bournemouth, Dorset, began his radio career at Bournemouth Hospital Radio broadcasting to different hospitals.

He became a travel bulletin reader for AA Roadwatch before joining the BBC as a freelancer.

In 2002, he took over the Saturday night slot and has remained there ever since.  

The decision to axe Mr Allen’s show comes after the BBC faced a backlash for axing Sue Barker, Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell from A Question Of Sport in a move to ‘diversify’ the show.

The former tennis player was axed as host of the show last year, alongside the team captains, so that bosses could draft in fresh talent to revamp the long-running sports quiz.

Miss Barker, who will stay on as the corporation’s face of Wimbledon, later told of her sadness at having to leave the show after 24 years and said that the BBC had to remove her from the programme as she would never have left voluntarily.

Also last year, presenter Victoria Derbyshire admitted she had been left ‘absolutely devastated’ after she found out her long-running show on BBC Two had been cut.

The presenter wrote on Twitter: ‘Absolutely devastated at the plan to end our programme (which I first learned about in yesterday’s Times).

Sue Barker was axed as host of the BBC's A Question Of Sport, alongside team captains Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell (right), last year so that bosses could draft in fresh talent

Sue Barker was axed as host of the BBC’s A Question Of Sport, alongside team captains Matt Dawson (left) and Phil Tufnell (right), last year so that bosses could draft in fresh talent

Last year Victoria Derbyshire said she was 'absolutely devastated' when she found out her long-running show on the BBC had been axed

Last year Victoria Derbyshire said she was ‘absolutely devastated’ when she found out her long-running show on the BBC had been axed

Flog It! was axed by the BBC after 16 years on air and more than 1,000 episodes (host Paul Martin pictured in 2010)

Flog It! was axed by the BBC after 16 years on air and more than 1,000 episodes (host Paul Martin pictured in 2010)

I’m unbelievably proud of what our team and our show have achieved in under five years, breaking tonnes of original stories (which we were asked to do); attracting a working class, young diverse audience that BBC radio and TV news progs just don’t reach (which we were asked to do): and smashing the digital figures (Which we were asked to do).  

‘I’m gutted particularly for our brilliant, young, ambitious, talented team – love ’em. And for all those people we gave a voice to. Love them too.’

In 2020, broadcaster Libby Purves, who has presented on Radio 4 for 40 years, said the growth of websites and social media had made BBC bosses increasingly concerned with image.  

Miss Purves said that in the past ‘you could get older unless your voice actually quavered and your phrases and opinions marked you out as an old buffer’.

Broadcaster Libby Purves, who has presented on Radio 4 for 40 years, said the growth of websites and social media had made bosses concerned with image

Broadcaster Libby Purves, who has presented on Radio 4 for 40 years, said the growth of websites and social media had made bosses concerned with image

‘But the coming of websites [and] social media… is making radio seek an image more visual, thus ageist,’ she told Radio Times.

‘The middle-aged female must struggle to look youthful… Equality will come when women are allowed to be grey, stout and in proper cardigans.’

In 2018, fans took to social media to share their outrage after it was revealed the BBC had axed the popular daytime TV show Flog It! 

The auction show, fronted by antiques dealer Paul Martin, had become a daytime television staple since it first hit screens back in 2002 and saw members of the public have their treasured possessions valued by a team of experts.

But after more than 1,000 episodes, it was removed to make room for six new commissions to ‘modernise’ the daytime schedule. 

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