BROADCASTING legend Tony Blackburn has returned to Frinton for the first time since being "shipwrecked" in the town in 1966.

Tony, who presents BBC Radio 2’s Sounds of the 60s show, was a former pirate radio DJ on Radio Caroline.

He spent three years looking at Frinton from three-and-half miles away, but only ever visited the town when the pirate radio ship ran aground on a stormy night.

Tony had previously been challenged to visit the resort by TalkRadio presenter James Max after they appeared together on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine Show.

James defended his hometown after Tony jested there was “nothing to do” in the seaside town - but the veteran DJ has now changed his opinion.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Warming up - Tony Blackburn pictured after Radio Caroline ran aground

Speaking to the Gazette, Tony said: “We had a little joke about Frinton because I had spent three years looking at it from the sea.

“The only time I had actually been there was when I was shipwrecked on Radio Caroline in a Force 10 gale.

“It was very late at night and dark. The police took us into custody before letting us go.

“So, this was the first time I have seen it in the daylight – and it was very nice.”

Radio Caroline's pirate radio ship, the 470-tonne MV Mi Amigo ran aground just after 10pm on January 19, 1966.

At the time, the Gazette reported that it was no joke for the five disc jockeys, three radio engineers and their Dutch steward.

The ship broke from her anchorage about four miles off Frinton and drifted shorewards.

None of the DJs knew what was happening until they ran aground between Frinton and Holland Haven.

Speaking in 1966, Tony said: "As I do the early show in the morning I was in bed.

"Somebody shouted that we were running aground and I thought it was a practical joke.

"We were then told to get dressed and put our life jackets on as we might have to be taken ashore.

"It was not until I saw the seawall right in front of the ship that I realised how close we were."

After being rescued by Walton lifeboat, they were taken to Walton police station for a change of clothes and cups of tea before sorting out what belongings they had salvaged.

After his visit on Thursday, Tony said: “My wife Debbie and I just went down there for a change of atmosphere and a day out.

“In the early 60s it was a joke that there was nothing to do in Frinton - it didn’t even have a pub back then."

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Aground - Radio Caroline's pirate radio ship MV Mi Amigo ran aground in Frinton in January 1966. Picture: John Steer/Ray Clark.

Tony added: “I didn’t realise how big Frinton actually was – and the high street is great.

“We went for a walk on the seafront and met some very nice people, some of them listen to the Sounds of the 60s.

“I loved seeing the beach huts – I was brought up in Poole and always had a love for the sea.”

“I have changed my mind,” Tony added. “Frinton’s a lovely place. I won’t be sending it up any more.”

Tony said it was a spur of the moment visit and he didn’t meet up with James because of the Covid-19 restrictions, but promised to do so on his next visit.

Tony also visited Manningtree on his journey home, stopping for a bite to eat at Italian restaurant Lucca, which got the thumbs up from the DJ.

  • Radio Caroline, the True Story of The Boat That Rocked is available for £12.95, signed by author and radio presenter Ray Clark, by emailing