Vernon Kay is to replace Ken Bruce on his BBC Radio 2 mid-morning weekday show, the BBC has confirmed. The TV presenter will take over in May following the announcement last month that Scottish broadcasting veteran Bruce would be stepping down from presenting his mid-morning show on the station after 31 years.
Bruce will present his final 9.30am to midday show on March 3, the BBC confirmed. On Friday, Bruce said he had intended to fulfil his contract at Radio 2, previously due to finish at the end of March, but that the BBC had “decided it wants me to leave earlier”.
“I will be presenting my last show on Radio 2 next Friday,” he tweeted. "I had intended fulfilling my contract until the end of March but the BBC has decided it wants me to leave earlier. Let’s enjoy the week ahead!”
Kay, who is marking his 20th wedding anniversary to Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly this year, has fronted various shows on Channel 4 and ITV, including All Star Family Fortunes, Just The Two Of Us, and Beat The Star.
The 48-year-old presented his own BBC Radio 1 show between 2004 and 2012, and another on Radio X between 2015 and 2017. He is a familiar face on Radio 2 having previously filled in for presenters including Zoe Ball, Steve Wright, Rylan Clark and Dermot O’Leary.
Kay said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to be handed the microphone to present the mid-morning show on Radio 2, and what an honour to follow in the footsteps of the mighty Ken Bruce."
Helen Thomas, head of Radio 2, said: “Radio 2 is home to some of the UK’s best-loved presenters, and I’m thrilled to welcome Vernon to mid-mornings on Radio 2. “He’s a hugely talented, warm and witty host who has already proved himself to be a firm favourite with our listeners when he’s presented many and varied shows across the station."
The BBC confirmed Gary Davies, host of the station’s Sounds Of The 80s, will present the mid-morning show from March 6 until Kay takes over the helm in May on a date to be announced. The DJ will usher in Radio 2’s new weekday pop quiz to replace Bruce’s popular PopMaster format as well as continuing his own radio show which he has fronted since 2018.
It came after 72-year-old Bruce announced he was leaving the BBC in January before confirming he would be moving to Bauer’s Greatest Hits Radio in April to present a mid-morning show from 10am to 1pm. The DJ, who started at the BBC in his early 30s, said he would “always be proud” of his association with the BBC and Radio 2, but that he wanted to continue his career “in a slightly different way in the next few years”.
Radio 2 fans reacted angrily to the BBC's decision to pull the plug on Bruce, with fan Martin Green claiming that BBC Radio2 had committed corporate suicide. James Merry stated on Twitter: "No way to treat a loyal servant. Obsessed with change. A stable society has its constants, its reliability, its expectations."
A user with the handle @WittyLeaks said: "We should’ve had a whole month of tributes and celebrations for one the BBC’s most talented and popular broadcasters. I will be boycotting Radio 2 after next Friday. The way they have treated Ken is absolutely appalling."
And Carol Matthews wrote: "The end of @BBCRadioTwo as we know it. Look forward to listening to you on @greatesthitsuk. I hope they value you more. Wishing you all the best for your move"
Bruce's departure follows a number of high-profile exits and reshuffling at BBC Radio recently, including Scott Mills leaving BBC Radio 1 after 24 years at the network to join Radio 2 for a new weekday show. Mills took over the 2-4pm slot from presenter Steve Wright, who stepped down from his afternoon show at the end of September after 23 years.
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Paul O’Grady also quit his Radio 2 Sunday afternoon show, which he had presented for 14 years, because he was unhappy with a schedule shake-up that saw him share the slot with comic Rob Beckett.
Bruce first joined the corporation in 1977 as a BBC Radio Scotland presenter and his first regular slot on Radio 2 was the Saturday Late Show in 1984. The following year he fronted the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, taking over from Terry Wogan. He later moved to mid-mornings in 1986 and after a brief stint on late nights and early mornings, he returned to mid-mornings in January 1992.
Bruce has also presented Radio 2’s coverage of Eurovision since 1988, and has been a regular presenter of Sunday Night Is Music Night.
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