The Deputy Controller of BBC Radio 1 was forced to defend DJ Chris Moyles after accusations of homophobia from both the media regulator and a distinguished broadcaster at an industry event. But Moyles was not given a full seal of approval.
BBC Radio 1’s Deputy Controller Ben Cooper speaking at the Guardian’s Radio Reborn conference, stopped short of guaranteeing that Moyles would be presenting the prime Breakfast programme in a years time. Instead, Mr Cooper said Moyles would remain in post “so long as he keeps connecting with the young audience”.
He described Moyles as “an excellent broadcaster who has made a couple of mistakes in five-and-a-half years on breakfast”.
“Make sure that you keep listening and you will find out by listening every day,” he added.
Last week, The Sun claimed that Moyles would be sacked, prompting the presenter to launch a 12 minute tirade against the newspaper. Responding to questions relating to the incident, Mr Cooper said: We have got contracts to negotiate … I think he is a very good broadcaster and I want him to stay on breakfast so long as he keeps connecting with the young audience we want him to.”
Another speaker, the veteran broadcaster Paul Gambaccini said that Moyles encouraged homophobic bullying when he mimiced the gay singer Will Young: “Moyles encourages bullying and causes human suffering. It brings us all down in this world. We have a lot of responsibility.”
Singing an alternative version of Young’s single ‘Leave Right Now’, Moyles sang: “Oooh Will Young here, mmmmh. I’m here, it’s Will’s birthday and as the years go by I get more very gay. When you saw me years ago you didn’t know, but now I’m the gayest fella you probably know. mmm I like to wear a silly hat, I get camper by the hour, oh would you look at the muck in here. I’m Will Young and I’m gay.”
When singing his alternative version of ‘Evergreen’, Chris Moyles broadcast the lyrics: “It’s my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight. And I smell nice. I’ve had a shower and I’ve shaved my legs. Going out later, might go to Nob-oooh for dinner.”
The BBC was found in breach of the Broadcasting Code by Ofcom for the broadcast but was not fined. In 2006, Moyles was voted Stonewall’s ‘Bully of the Year’ after he refused to apologise for describing a ring tone that he didn’t like as “gay.”
Radio 1 boss Will Cooper said: “If I thought he was a bully or if I thought he was homophobic then I would take him off.”
“Now if Chris says something you can take it out of context, cut it out, send it on emails to all sorts of groups of people with all sorts of opinions very different to those of the people who listen to the show and it has a momentum of its own.
“We are in a very different culture but we have to respond to that culture. Moyles has to walk a very tight line and he does very well most days.”
But he added: “I am always looking at changes. Over the last five years pretty much every year we have had tweaks and changes. I am always going to be looking at the schedule and how it can be improved. I am passionate about Radio 1 and I want it to sound its best for a young audience.”