Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has vowed to fight sex offence allegations and "regain my honour", saying he had been through a "living nightmare" since the charges were brought.
Speaking outside Preston Magistrates' Court, the 83-year-old former It's A Knockout presenter said: "The last two months of my life have been a living nightmare. I have never gone through so much stress in my life."
He thanked his "very loving family" for their support and said that without it he might have considered taking his own life. He also questioned why the allegations had taken so long to surface. And he said he would like to survive "another couple of years" and hoped to "regain my honour, reputation and my life".
Hall was charged by Lancashire Police last month with one count of rape allegedly committed in 1976 against a 22-year-old woman and 14 offences of indecent assault against 10 girls aged between nine and 16, which allegedly took place between 1967 and 1986.
He 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.
Speaking after his brief appearance in court, Hall told reporters: "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."
Hall, of Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, appeared at the same court last month to face separate charges of historic sex offences. He pleaded not guilty on January 7 to three indecent assault charges dating between 1974 and 1984.
At the latest hearing, the broadcaster, 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 he faced one count of rape and 14 charges of sexual assault and the matters could only be dealt with at the Crown Court. District Judge Peter Ward bailed Hall to appear at Preston Crown Court on March 1.