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 thanked his ‘very loving family’ for their support and said that without it he might have considered taking his own 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.

Speaking after his brief appearance in court, Hall said the allegations were ‘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,” said Hall, who has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century.

“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 said he had been through an ‘absolutely horrific ordeal’, and added: ‘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.”