Entertainment

Chris Evans to leave Radio 2 breakfast show for Virgin Radio

The broadcaster announced on Monday morning that he was quitting Radio 2 after 13 years.

Chris Evans has shocked fans by announcing a return to Virgin Radio, almost 20 years after he left the station.

The broadcaster, 52, revealed on Monday morning that he was quitting Radio 2 and his breakfast show after 13 years at the BBC station.

Now he has told of his future plans, saying he will be hosting a rival breakfast show on Virgin Radio, “in many ways…  my spiritual home”.

“I see nothing but exciting and groundbreaking opportunities ahead. In a medium that is changing so quickly on a daily basis, the potential for growth is unprecedented,” he said.

“Our plan is to give it all we’ve got, see where we can get to and have the most possible fun along the way. It makes me smile every time I think about it.”

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson described the appointment as a “major coup”.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson (Nigel French/PA)

“Like radio listeners across the UK, I can’t wait to see what Chris comes up with for his new breakfast show. One thing I’m certain of is it is going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

Evans previously hosted the breakfast show on Virgin Radio, which he later bought, from 1997 to 2001.

He was sacked in 2001 for “breach of contract” after failing to turn up for work after several highly-publicised drinking sessions with his then-wife Billie Piper.

The broadcaster, the second-highest earner at the BBC according to its annual figures, became emotional as he announced on Radio 2 that he was leaving.

Radio 2 breakfast show presenters
(PA Graphics)

He will broadcast his last show in December.

Evans, who is expecting twins with wife Natasha, had told listeners: “Some of us are mountain climbers and, if you get to the top of your favourite mountain, you become a mountain observer, so I’ve got to keep climbing.

“I’m going to go and go again and I’m going to start up on a brand new adventure.”

He added: “It’s been brilliant. It will continue to be brilliant.”

Evans said that the story-writing competition 500 Words would be staying at Radio 2.

Radio2 Breakfast Show, average weekly audience
(PA Graphics)

Evans announced in April that he and his wife are expecting twins.

The couple already have sons called Eli and Noah.

BBC figures published earlier in the summer revealed that the broadcaster and former Top Gear host is earning between £1.6 million and £1,669,999 for his Radio 2 breakfast show.

He was the second-highest earner on the BBC list, one place below Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker.

Evans first joined Radio 2 in September 2005 as presenter of the Saturday afternoon show.

He moved to the drivetime slot in 2006.

Evans took over from Sir Terry Wogan as the host of the Radio 2 breakfast show in January 2010.

Chris Evans and his wife Natasha
Chris Evans and his wife Natasha (Anthony Devlin/PA)

He scooped the Best Music Radio Breakfast Show award in 2016.

The programme currently has a weekly audience of more than nine million, making it the UK’s most listened-to radio programme.

Evans previously hosted breakfast shows at Radio 1 and Virgin Radio, and presented TV shows TFI Friday and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush.

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