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Disliking the Bay City Rollers not anti-Scottish, rules BBC Trust

By | Published on Wednesday 16 December 2015

Bay City Rollers

Disliking the Bay City Rollers is not inherently anti-Scottish, the BBC Trust has ruled. This follows a complaint that Johnnie Walker has never played “Scotland’s answer to the Beatles” on his Radio 2 show, ‘Johnnie Walker’s Sounds Of The 70s’.

The Beeb received a complaint claiming that failing to play the band in any of 310 shows over six years documenting the music of the 1970s was “unreasonably biased” both against the band and Scottish licence fee payers.

In its response, the Trust noted that Walker had made “no secret” of his “poor opinion and dislike of the band”. In fact, back in the actual 70s he quit Radio 1 after falling out with station bosses – partly over his description of the Bay City Rollers as “musical garbage” on air at their height of their fame.

“[The complainant] understood that Johnnie Walker did not like the band but … felt that licence fee payers were entitled to hear what they wanted rather than what Johnnie Walker always wanted”, said the Trust in its ruling.

However, the regulator countered that Walker’s name was in the title of the show and therefore it should be expected that the content “reflected his taste”, even if he does mainly pick tracks he personally feels his listeners will “most enjoy”.

The complaint apparently stemmed from an edition of the show where Walker told someone who requested a Bay City Rollers track that he might consider playing it if they’d donate some money to charity. The presenter later said that the original requester had not responded, but someone else had offered him £20 not to play anything by the band.

The Trust said that there was no evidence that Walker’s refusal to play Bay City Rollers songs was due to them being Scottish and that “it was not appropriate, proportionate or cost-effective to proceed with the [complaint] as it did not have a reasonable prospect of success”.