Romesh Ranganathan ready for pushback in Claudia Winkleman’s Radio 2 slot

The comedian and actor is to take over the 10am to 1pm Saturday slot later this month.

Romesh Ranganathan
Romesh Ranganathan (Suzan Moore/PA)

Romesh Ranganathan has said he is prepared for pushback from BBC Radio 2 listeners when he takes over Claudia Winkleman’s slot because “people don’t like change”.

Strictly Come Dancing co-host Winkleman, 52, signed off her final show on the station last month after announcing in December that she was leaving to spend more time with her children.

Comedian and actor Ranganathan, 46, who will step into the 10am to 1pm Saturday slot later this month, discussed how he is feeling before taking on the role and also the racist abuse he faces online.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman (Ian West/PA)

Speaking about how listeners will react to him on the airwaves, he told The Telegraph: “People don’t like change. Some will be annoyed I don’t sound like Claudia.

“Hopefully people get to like it, or they won’t and I’ll get sacked. Either outcome is all right.”

The stand-up, who hosts a hip-hop show on the station on Saturdays, admitted to a mixture of “excitement and nerves” at taking over Winkleman’s popular slot.

“Obviously I’m excited to take over a big show. But the catastrophising part of you thinks, ‘What if I do this really terribly?’,” he said.

“When you do something weekly like that you become part of the fabric of their week and they get quite into you.

“I’m not looking to reinvent the format. It won’t be three hours of hip-hop.”

Ranganathan revealed he had to “really think” about accepting the offer as he was concerned about being up to the task and had to work out with his wife if he could miss every Saturday morning with their children.

“That was more frictionless than you can imagine. I half suspect that she might have suggested it,” he joked.

He and his wife Leesa have three sons: Theo, 14, Alex, 12, and Charlie, nine.

Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan at the Bafta Television Awards last year
Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan at the Bafta Television Awards last year (Yui Mok/PA)

Ranganathan said he has become “immune” to online abuse but is conscious that his children are not.

“My kids know that I get racist stuff online,” he added.

“What you’re seeing is a version of road rage. People behave in a way they wouldn’t face to face.”

“It’s a tricky thing to handle because it has become publicly less acceptable to say those things, but it hasn’t become less acceptable to feel those things. And you can’t legislate for how somebody thinks.”

He also revealed he and his wife had agreed that their children are allowed to look at everything on their phones to help the boys navigate social media.

“Saying to a kid ‘It doesn’t really matter, you’ll move on’ doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

“Their value is so tied up in how their mates perceive them. It is a hard thing to negotiate.”

Ranganathan hosted the Bafta TV awards ceremony last year, with fellow comedian Rob Beckett, and they also have a Sky comedy series called Rob & Romesh Vs.

He is also known for presenting BBC One’s The Weakest Link and starring in the channel’s comedy series Avoidance.