LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) - The BBC was criticised on Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron for over-reacting when it sacked a radio DJ for playing an 82-year-old song that contained the same racist word that embroiled a top TV presenter in a national scandal just days ago.
BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe, 68, lost his job when a listener complained after he played a 1932 version of the song “The Sun Has Got His Hat on” which included the word “nigger”.
Lowe, a broadcaster for 32 years, said he had not realised that the old version of the song contained the word and he offered to issue an on-air apology but instead lost his job.
The complaint came days after calls to sack leading BBC television presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, host of car show “Top Gear”, for apparently using the word in unbroadcast footage while reciting the rhyme “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo”.
Clarkson, whose show is the most watched factual TV show in the world and is aired in 214 countries, said he had received a final warning from the BBC over the incident.
Asked his views on Lowe’s sacking, Cameron said it was unacceptable to use the n-word but that the reaction did appear to have been a “bit over the top”.
“I don’t run the BBC so I have to be careful - employ that person not that person and all the rest of it - but it does seem in this case that if he really didn’t know what was on the record... It does seem slightly unfair,” Cameron told ITV.
A BBC spokeswoman acknowledged the corporation could have handled the incident better and had offered Lowe the opportunity to return to presenting his golden oldies show, Singers and Swingers, on a Sunday evening.
But Lowe said the row had exacerbated a stress-related condition and he would not be returning to the BBC.
“We wish him well and the door remains opens to him,” the BBC spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Stephen Addison)