Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall, who is fighting historic sex offence allegations, said he might have considered taking his own life had it not been for the support of his family.

Speaking outside Preston Magistrates' Court, the 83-year-old described the accusations as "spurious" and vowed to clear his name and restore his reputation.

Earlier, the former It's A Knockout presenter made his first appearance in court charged with one count of rape and 14 offences of indecent assault.

stuart hall

Hall said he is incubating a heart complaint since the accusations surfaced

Addressing reporters, he questioned why the allegations had taken so long to surface.

He said: "May I just say these allegations are pernicious, callous, cruel and, above all, spurious.

"And may I just say I am not guilty and will be defending these accusations.

"Like a lot of other people in this country today I am wondering why it has taken 30 or 40 years for these allegations to surface.

"The last two months of my life have been a living nightmare. I have never gone through so much stress in my life and I am finding it difficult to sustain.

"Fortunately I have a very loving family and they are very supportive, and I think but for their love I might have been constrained to take my own life.

"They have encouraged me to fight on, to fight the charges and regain my reputation and good name and whatever I have represented to this country down the years.

"With that I would like to thank everybody who has supported me for their good will, which has sustained me through this absolutely horrific ordeal.

"As I say, I shall be defending myself. I am 83 years old. I was a healthy 83-year-old, but I am now incubating a heart complaint and I'll be very lucky to survive another couple of years.

"But I hope to survive those two years and regain my honour and reputation and, more than ever, my life."

Hall, of Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century and was last year awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

His eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

The broadcaster was charged last month with the alleged rape of a 22-year-old woman in 1976 and 14 offences of indecent assault against 10 girls aged between nine and 16, which allegedly took place between 1967 and 1986.

During today's short court hearing, Hall, wearing a navy pin-stripe suit, light blue shirt and dark blue tie, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

The court was told the alleged offences could only be dealt with at the Crown Court.

District Judge Peter Ward bailed Hall to appear at Preston Crown Court on March 1.

On January 7, Hall pleaded not guilty to three separate indecent assault charges dating between 1974 and 1984.

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