In Depth

Why is Chris Evans leaving Radio 2 and when will Zoe Ball replace him?

Breakfast show will have its first female presenter

Zoe Ball has been announced as the new host of Radio 2’s breakfast show, replacing Chris Evans next year.

Ball, who has more than 25 years’ broadcasting experience, said it was an “honour and privilege” to become the first woman to present the show.

“Believe me, I’m not underestimating the enormity of the task ahead: to follow not one but two of my broadcasting idols, into such a well-loved show is somewhat daunting,” she added.

Evans, who took over from Terry Wogan in 2010, revealed last month that he was leaving to return to Virgin Radio. At the time, he said the forthcoming birth of his twins had influenced the decision. The babies, a boy and a girl, were born on 20 September.

He will broadcast his last instalment of The Chris Evans Breakfast Show in December and Ball will take over in January.

Evans, who is the second-highest-paid star at the corporation, earning £1.6m per year, told his listeners: “I have absolutely loved every single moment of my time at Radio 2. The last 13 years have flashed by in what seems like the blink of an eye. I have learnt so much from so many people to whom I will be eternally grateful.

“As Sir Terry said before me, there’s never a right time to leave something you love but there might be a wrong time if you hang on too long. I honestly think the breakfast show is currently as positive, useful, sunny and inclusive as it has ever been.”

The show’s audience figures soared as high as 9.91 million listeners a week during its heyday, in 2014. However, listener numbers “have fallen sharply since”, says The Guardian.

Evans will return to the Virgin Radio breakfast show, which he hosted between 1997 and 2001.

Speaking about his new appointment, he said: “In many ways, Virgin Radio is 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.”

Ball was the first female host of the Radio 1 breakfast show and also presented Live & Kicking, The Big Breakfast and Top of the Pops in the 1990s. More recently, she fronted Strictly Come Dancing’s sister show It Takes Two and has her own Radio 2 Saturday afternoon show.

Bob Shennan, BBC radio and music director, said: “The Radio 2 Breakfast Show is arguably the most coveted job in UK radio, with a long and illustrious history, and I’m thrilled that the baton is now passing to Zoe, who I know will make the show her very own.”

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