Paul O’Grady has quit his BBC Radio 2 show after station bosses made him share his Sunday afternoon slot with another presenter as part of a push to attract younger listeners.
The comedian, 67, has hosted a Sunday afternoon programme on the UK’s most popular radio station for the last 14 years. But in February he was forced to give up half of his shows and share the time slot with 36-year-old comedian Rob Beckett – with the men swapping presenting duties every three months.
O’Grady has said this weekend’s show will be his final broadcast: “I’ve loved doing my Sunday afternoon show for the last 14 years and I’m going to miss my listeners as well as the fun I’ve had with my producer, Malcolm Prince, but I feel that now is the right time to go.”
Radio 2 has been attempting to attract a younger audience in recent years, while also reducing the wage bill it pays some of its leading presenters.
This has led to the departure of several older hosts, a shuffling of schedules and the introduction of new presenters such as DJ Spoony and Drag Race UK star Michelle Visage. Veteran DJ Tony Blackburn has also complained about his Golden Hour show being shunted to Sunday nights.
Steve Wright, who earned £450,000 a year, has also lost his longstanding afternoon show. The 67-year-old will be replaced by ex-Radio 1 host Scott Mills, 49.
Vanessa Feltz has also quit her early morning breakfast show, along with her BBC London presenting job, amid speculation she could be joining a revamped talkTV schedule.
A BBC spokesperson emphasised that it was O’Grady’s decision to quit: “We’re sad to say that after 14 years on Sunday afternoons, Paul O’Grady has decided to leave Radio 2. We wish Paul the very best of luck and hope to work with him again in the future.”