Entertainment

‘Broadcasting legend’ Steve Wright signs off from his BBC Radio 2 show

The veteran broadcaster has insisted he is not retiring.
The veteran broadcaster has insisted he is not retiring. The veteran broadcaster has insisted he is not retiring.

Steve Wright has signed off from his last BBC Radio 2 afternoon show with Queen’s Radio Ga Ga, as he bid farewell after 23 years.

The 68-year-old broadcaster, who announced he would be leaving the show in July as part of the station’s schedule shake-up, thanked listeners “from the bottom of my heart”.

He has presented Steve Wright In The Afternoon in the Radio 2 slot since 1999 and also presents Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs on the network.

Scott Mills, who left BBC Radio 1 after 24 years at the network, is taking over the 2pm-4pm slot.

In his final epilogue on the show, Wright said: “I am so glad today was about the success of the programme and I wanted to say thank you to anyone who has been involved with this programme – guests, celebrity stars, authors, politicians, experts, they all come to studio 6B and have been brilliant.

“Most of all I want to say thanks to you for listening from the bottom of my heart, if you’ve listened at any time over the past 23 years, me and the team don’t really quite know how to thank you enough, and it goes without saying that I love you and we’ve shared a few tears over the past few weeks.”

Wright also gave a shout-out to “legendary TV man and former controller of BBC Radio 2” Jim Moir who “gave me the gig on Radio 2 and let me get on with it, with the phrase, whatever you do Wrighty, don’t frighten the horses.”

He concluded his show by saying: “In the last moments some of the tunes we love,” before playing Harden My Heart by Quarterflash and Radio Ga Ga by Queen.

The DJ kicked off his last BBC Radio 2 afternoon show on Friday saying “no tension here, just fun, celebration and thanks to you.

“I am going to try and do my normal bits because I don’t want to go to pieces. I don’t want to be in bits but I might.”

The veteran host also made an emotional personal address, thanking his “dear listeners, smashing and loyal”.

George Michael
George Michael Singer George Michael with BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright (PA)

“Thank you if you’ve ever seen your way to listening to us over 23 years at any time. Thank you, thank you and thank you again,” he said.

“Corny though it sounds, I quite like the way we’ve all helped each other get through some of our on-going problems together, the pandemic, the financial downturn, the ups and downs of life in the UK.

“Sometimes it has been very difficult for everybody. We’ve tried on this programme to bring just a little bit of light relief, a good genuine atmosphere, uplifting tunes, good conversation, a little bit of satire, we try to make the show unique and just be good company.

“I can only hope we have done that some of the time.

“Also really aware there are more things to think about than a radio show ending, so I don’t want to be too self-indulgent.

“What I do want to do is celebrate the show’s success and long run and also mention that I’m not retiring, I am not retiring,” he said.

He later added: “Hands up for celebration and no regrets.”

Wright made his name on Radio 1, with the original Steve Wright In The Afternoon programme launching in 1981, which pioneered the “zoo” format on UK airwaves.

He moved from afternoons to the breakfast slot in 1994 before joining Radio 2 the following year and reinstated his afternoon show in 1999.

Wright’s show became popular thanks to a number of humorous segments including “factoids” which involved listing quirky facts.

Friday’s final episode included a series of special factoids about Steve Wright In The Afternoon.

TV presenter Richard Osman was among the celebrities paying tribute to Wright on Twitter, saying: “Will be listening to Steve Wright’s final Radio 2 afternoon show today.

“He’s been entertaining me for nearly 40 years (no, not non-stop) and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes next. Good luck Steve, and thank you!”

Comedian Matt Lucas wrote: “Goodbye Steve Wright In The Afternoon. A terrific broadcaster and always such a kind, engaged host.”

Tim Vine said Wright would be “missed”, tweeting: “It’s the last Steve Wright in the Afternoon today on Radio2. It was such a great show to be on as a comedian.

“Steve was always so supportive and encouraging and just plain fun to be with. Thank you Steve and thank you @radiostimsmith too.”

Comedian Sue Perkins also tweeted: “Bon voyage to broadcasting legend Steve Wright on @BBCRadio2. A gent. Always a pleasure to be interviewed by him.”

Rob Brydon tweeted: “Steve Wright. Simply a GIANT of radio. #SteveWrightInTheAfternoon.”

BBC political editor Chris Mason, who took over the role from Laura Kuenssberg in May, posted several tweets about what Steve Wright meant to him.

“From listening when it was me on the school run as a kid, to listening now when it’s me doing the school run for the Mason nippers: Steve Wright’s always been there. Making the day better. Constancy. Company. Humour. Energy.

“We’d listen on the school bus. Those regular moments: Now Playing Everywhere, Hands Up, the Factoids, the Oldies. The jingles. The show theme. And getting invited onto the show. Will forever be a career highlight for me, whatever I get to do. Sitting in the studio with Steve, Tim and Janey; magic moment for me.

“Put simply, Steve is a radio genius, one of our greatest ever broadcasters. Loved the Show.”

Broadcaster Wright, who announced the news live on his show in July that he “can’t hold the slot forever”, has stressed he is not retiring.

Wright will continue to present Sunday Love Songs on BBC Radio 2 and his Serious Jockin’ podcast will launch on November 4 on BBC Sounds.

He will also be presenting a special programme on Radio 2 on National Album Day on October 15 and more programmes including Christmas specials will be announced soon, the BBC have said.