Veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall is not a rapist "whatever his shortcomings", his barrister has told a jury.
Hall is alleged to have plied two young girls with drink and repeatedly raped them on various dates more than 35 years ago, including in his BBC studio dressing room in Manchester.
The former It's A Knockout presenter has pleaded not guilty to all 20 allegations of rape and indecent assault he currently faces.
After prosecutor Peter Wright opened his case against Hall yesterday at Preston Crown Court, Hall's barrister Crispin Aylett was allowed by the judge to make a short opening statement of his own. He said: "The defendant says in his pleas of not guilty that whatever his shortcomings, whatever he has done – and none of this should have happened – he says 'I am not a rapist', and that in due course is the issue you will have to decide."
Mr Aylett told the jury: ''To people of a certain age, Stuart Hall will be known as the presenter of It's A Knockout, a good-natured TV programme in which members of the public cheerfully made fools of themselves on camera.
"And to you in the North West you will remember him as the presenter of Look North West, a BBC evening regional news programme which sought to entertain and inform.
"To a younger generation of sports fans you will know him as a flamboyant and eccentric football commentator."
He said the 15 counts of rape were "at the heart of this case".
One of those rapes involved a girl when she was 12 but, "safe to say, that incident is denied", he said. Instead, he said he wanted to focus on the 14 other alleged rapes in which the two girls were said to be aged either 14, 15 or 16.
Mr Aylett said: "What is the position where a middle-aged man has sexual intercourse with a teenager? Let me say from the outset that none of this should have happened.
"The girls were teenagers. The defendant was in his 40s and he had no one to blame but himself.
"But in what circumstances might a middle-aged man have a sexual relationship with a girl if she is under 16, outside it being rape?
"You might have been left with the impression that between rape and consensual sexual intercourse there is simply no forbidden area.
"Might there have been something in the middle?"
Mr Aylett said all the allegations his client faces came under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.
That act provided for offences of rape and indecent assault but also unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16, he said.
The case continues.