Chris Evans kicks off Virgin Radio return with live Richard Ashcroft performance

The broadcaster said he felt ‘blessed' to return to the station after his time at the BBC.

Chris Evans kicked off his first breakfast show on Virgin Radio with a live performance from Richard Ashcroft of The Verve.

Evans, who left the BBC in December after eight years in command of the early-morning slot on Radio 2, told listeners: “This is our breakfast show live on Virgin Radio.

“It’s so great to be back at Virgin and I have to say it’s a real treat. I feel blessed and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Chris Evans on Virgin Radio
Chris Evans arrives at the Virgin Radio studios in south London for his first breakfast show (Yui Mok/PA)

The 52-year-old eschewed usual practice by broadcasting a live performance of The Verve’s 1997 track Lucky Man to open the show.

Revealing Ashcroft’s presence in the studio, Evans said: “There’s been a lot of talk about what’s the first song I’m going to play, but of course I just press buttons, I don’t play songs.

“Musicians play music, so how about we get a musician to play a song? Feet away from me, this morning. How about Richard Ashcroft everybody?”

Chris Evans on Virgin Radio
Richard Ashcroft was Chris Evans’ first guest on the programme (Yui Mok/PA)

Ashcroft would play another five songs across the breakfast show.

Evans then played the first record of the programme, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

He read out a series of messages from listeners, one of which said: “I actually dreamt I listened to your show and it went very well.”

Evans jokingly added: “That’s actually the opposite of the dream I have been having.”

Celebrity guests on his debut show will include actress Fay Ripley and comedians Paul Whitehouse, Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett.

Chris Evans on Virgin Radio
Evans said he was ‘blessed’ to return to Virgin Radio (Yui Mok/PA)

Evans was replaced by Zoe Ball in the BBC breakfast slot, after hosting his show since 2010, when he took over from Sir Terry Wogan.

Ball began her show on January 14 by playing Respect by Aretha Franklin, telling listeners “it had to be a dame, on this occasion”.

She added: “They come no greater than the Queen of Soul, and Respect.”

A sponsorship deal from Sky means that the show will be broadcast without advert breaks, mimicking the listening experience on the BBC.

It will air on weekdays between 6.30am and 10am.

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