Tony Blackburn has vowed to never retire.
The radio and TV legend turns 80 later this month but he is adamant he will not be leaving the airwaves, which he has been a fixture on since the 1960s, because he loves his job and it stops him from going “to pot”.
In an interview with The Lady magazine, he said: “I've been at the BBC for most of my life because they allow you to be yourself, whereas some other organisations tend to try to mould you. One agent wanted me to do more serious programmes, but I'm not like that. I love music and talking and nonsense and trying to give people a laugh.
"I'm still doing it now because I want to, not because I have to. It's exhausting, really, to be so ambitious. But the day I don't think I can do it properly any more I will give up.
"Keeping your brain active is really important. If you are lucky enough to enjoy your job, as I do, try to keep working. People who retire early can sometimes go to pot. I can understand people retiring if they don't like their job, but the only reason I would is if I suffered from bad health. Until then I want to keep going as long as I can. I'm very, very lucky to be enjoying this part of my life - and I'm not under any pressure to prove myself.”
Tony wakes at 3.15am on Saturdays to drive from his Hertfordshire home to the BBC studios in London for his 6am radio show, 'Sound of the 60s' on Radio 2, and he travels back into London again on Sundays for his evening show 'Tony Blackburn's Golden Hour'.
Tony credits his happy marriage to second wife Debbie – who he married in 1992 – and his vegetarian diet for his good health and his energy to keep working into old age.
Although he admits Debbie, 62, does worry about him overstretching himself, especially when he hits the road for his live shows.
He said: “How have I managed to last for so long? I'm very happily married, which helps.
"Debbie is 62 but much more grown-up than me. She drives me on tour sometimes when we have to stay overnight for my live 'Sound of the 60s' theatre shows. She does sometimes say, 'Do you think you're OK with that?' when I'm doing three shows a week, plus the radio at the weekend. But I've signed up for another 40 shows that will take me through to June this year. There's a seven-piece band and I joke around with the audience, telling them tales from my pirate radio days.”
Tony considers his shows to be a public service, and he is adamant that a station like BBC Radio 2 is much-needed, especially for older people for whom the “radio is a friend”.
He said: “For older people, radio is a lovely friend I know my audience and what. I like a song with a good melody - I'm not going to pick some rapping thing.
"It's a strange, sad world out there now, but Radio 2 is there to make people feel happy for a while.”