Simon Mayo and Jo Whiley to leave Radio 2 Drivetime show

Mayo to focus on book deal and 5 Live film show as Whiley moves to an evening slot

Simon Mayo and Jo Whiley are to leave the BBC Radio 2 Drivetime show, as part of a shake-up at the UK’s most popular radio station.

Mayo has hosted the show since 2010, but tensions are thought to have arisen after the addition of Whiley as a co-presenter for the 5pm-8pm slot in May, which prompted a backlash from listeners.

Whiley will remain with the station but move to a 7pm-9pm slot from January, meaning Radio 2 requires a new team of Drivetime presenters.

Whiley was the only female presenter on the Radio 2 daytime schedule, and the station will come under pressure to appoint another woman to the role, with Sara Cox likely to be considered.

Mayo will continue to work with the BBC – including the 5 Live film show he co-presents with Mark Kermode – but said he would instead concentrate on his two-book deal with the publisher Transworld.

“Radio 2 has been a quite wonderful experience – my happiest in radio I think – but new adventures beckon and I cannot wait to get started,” said Mayo.

He later tweeted: “Maybe it needs to be said, maybe not but so there is no room for argument I’ll be clear. I’ve loved working with the exceptional Jo Whiley and when the show was ‘reconfigured’ she was my first and only choice. Some of the abuse she has had here has been appalling. Support for a show is one thing, assaulting the dignity of a warmhearted and loyal friend is another.”

Whiley said Mayo was a “great friend” and said of her move to an evening slot: “I’m very much looking forward to hosting a new show for a new year which will have music at the very heart of it as well as guests and live sessions. Dream show, actually. Can’t wait!”

The station’s Breakfast show host, Chris Evans, was poached by Virgin Radio this year. He will be replaced by Zoë Ball.

Mayo has written a trilogy of children’s novels and the first one, Itch, is to be adapted by ABC Television in Australia later this year.

Before joining Radio 2 he hosted a daily show on 5 Live between 2001 and 2009, having previously been a Radio 1 Breakfast show host.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

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