BBC Radio 1 breakfast host Nick Grimshaw has been branded a "total nob" by a rival breakfast DJ for declaring Robbie Williams "irrelevant" to his listeners, despite the artist claiming the No 1 slot in the charts for his latest single, Candy.
The Tuesday morning war of words was sparked after Grimshaw told 5 News that Williams was too old for his audience, confirming that Radio 1 has deliberately omitted Candy from the station's playlist.
"I don't know if he's now for a Radio 1 audience. I've never listened to a Robbie Williams song, but I really like him," said Grimshaw.
"To 13- and 14-year-olds, he's not relevant – they've got One Direction. I liked Take That when I was little, but I'm not little anymore," the Radio 1 DJ added.
Williams's single, his 14th No 1, sold more than 130,000 copies last week to reach the top spot in the official chart on Sunday.
The 38-year-old is one of the most successful British artists of the past 20 years, launching a solo career in 1995 after quitting Take That and selling tens of millions of albums in the UK and Europe. He was reunited with Take That in 2010 for a new album, Progress, and sellout tour.
Radio 1's decision not to give Candy much airplay will be seen as part of a strategic repositioning for the station, which is seeking to focus more tightly on its target audience of 15- to 29-year-olds, as set out in its BBC Trust remit.
However, Magic Breakfast presenter Neil Fox reckons it is a sign of how out of touch Radio 1 is with its listeners.
He tucked straight into Grimshaw on Tuesday morning, tweeting "Brainless @grimmers @R1Breakfast claims @robbiewilliams is too old & irrelevant for today's teenagers! Some advice.. Stop being a total nob."
In a second tweet, Fox said: "Scary how many people seem to agree with my thought re @grimmers being a #totalnob over his @robbiewilliams comments! It's true though."
Agreeing with Fox, Andrew Gemmell, one of his followers tweeted: "@NeilDoctorFox @r1breakfast It's crazy that R1 have an age limit of 22 or so. Imagine who we'd have lost if that was true 20 yrs ago!"
Candy was left off the playlist at Radio 1 because station chiefs felt that it was too old for the station's demographic, whilst new acts such as One Direction and Calvin Harris are on heavy rotation according to Radio Today.
Fox told Radio Today the decision "smacks of desperation" and will backfire on Radio 1.
"I'm not the voice of youth but Radio 1 are crazy for saying they're not playing his new song. He'll still be popular when One Direction have split up," he said.
"I don't know Nick – I'm sure he's a nice guy, but it will be interesting to see how long he lasts now his honeymoon period is over."
Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper, who took over in October last year, has been seeking to make the station appeal to a younger audience, following BBC Trust criticism that it was not focusing enough on its 15-29 target demographic.
Cooper's biggest move so far was replacing Chris Moyles – like Williams, 38 – with Grimshaw, 28, as Radio 1 breakfast show host last month. He has also moved on presenters of specialist shows including Gilles Peterson, who switched to BBC Radio 6 Music.
Since joining Radio 1 in 2007 on the BBC's youth strand Switch, Grimshaw has had a turbo-charged career ascent, standing in for fellow DJ Annie Mac for nine months in 2007 and 2008 and then quickly promoted to the weekend breakfast slot where he reigned for nine months up to May 2009. He then landed the 10pm to midnight slot once occupied by John Peel and vacated after the departure of Colin Murray.
The row has echoes of a dispute between Radio 1 and veteran rockers Status Quo, who started high court action after they were similarly kept off the play list for being "too dull" in 1996 as the station made a bid to improve its youth credentials. Radio 1 DJ John Peel applauded the writ as a cunning publicity stunt which got the band back in the headlines everywhere.
In the same year Radio 1 also refused to put The Beatles' Real Love on its playlist, saying it was not what listeners wanted to hear. Paul McCartney wrote an angry comment piece for the Daily Mirror criticising the "kindergarten kings of Radio 1". The song went to number four in the UK singles chart.
Three years later, Cliff Richard then 58, got his 14th UK No 1 with charity single The Millennium Prayer, despite being denied airplay on radio stations around the country including Radio 1 and Radio 2.
The charity single, which was the Lord's Prayer sung to Auld Lang Syne was panned by the critics but it became the third-best selling single of his career up to then after a campaign through churches and the internet.
Williams spokesman said he had no comment to make about Radio 1's decision.
Candy is Williams first UK No 1 in eight years and the 14th of his career including Take That, putting him on equal footing with his former bandmate Gary Barlow and on a par with Cliff Richard.
Candy is also Williams's fastest-selling single in the UK since Rock DJ hit the top spot 12 years ago, and with 137 000 copies sold this week, it's the fastest-selling male artist single of the year, and the third fastest-selling single of 2012 overall.
Williams has played four dates this year and has three further sell-out gigs coming up at London's O2.
Meanwhile, out here in the real world, Radio 1's alleged target demographic carry on getting their new music from t'internet and possibly 6 Music, unaware of Radio 1 being aimed at anyone but superannuated chavs who don't know how to use a computer.