Chris Evans thanks Zoe Ball as he takes to the airwaves for Virgin Radio

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

Chris Evans thanked Zoe Ball for a good luck message she sent him as he returned to the airwaves for his first breakfast show on Virgin Radio.

Evans left the BBC in December after eight years in command of the early-morning slot on Radio 2, which was taken over by Ball.

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

He told listeners there was “room for everyone”, adding: “It helps with the quality of the business.

“Zoe, thanks for your text message last night. It was very sweet of you.”

The former BBC presenter kicked off his first Virgin Radio show with a live performance from Richard Ashcroft of The Verve.

He said: “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.”

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

Chris Evans on Virgin Radio
Singer Richard Ashcroft arrives at the Virgin Radio studios in south London, to be a guest for Chris Evans’ first breakfast show on the station (Yui Mok/PA)

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?”

Ashcroft, due to play five songs across the breakfast show, also treated listeners to a rendition of the band’s hit Bitter Sweet Symphony.

James Corden was among the people tweeting about Evans’ new show.

He tweeted: “Its 11.36pm and I’m tucked up in bed listening to @achrisevans first morning show on @VirginRadioUK. It’s making me feel incredibly homesick and yet warm and fuzzy at the same time x Great show so far x”.

The first record of the programme following the live music was Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

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

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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