Who’ll be making waves after Wogan and Evans?
- Credit: PA
Chris Evans is a tough act to follow on the country’s most-listened-to radio show - who’s it going to be?
There haven’t been many presenters on the flagship BBC Radio 2 breakfast show.
It is a prime pitch and on Radio 2, the UK’s most popular station (more than 15 million listeners every week), the voice of the tea-and-toast hours is surely the most famous of all.
Chris Evans, who this week announced he would be leaving the show in December, took over from Sir Terry Wogan whose reign began in 1973. He temporarily abdicated in 1984 to concentrate on his television career and his inter-regnum was covered by Ken Bruce and Brian Hayes. Wogan returned to breakfast radio in 1993, leaving at the end of 2009.
It was a culture shock for some when Chris Evans’ with his excitable delivery and new ideas of fun took over in January 2010. It was a huge contrast to Terry Wogan’s warm Irish brogue and gentle appreciation of innuendo.
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It has been an exhilarating ride on Chris Evans’ breakfast show but now the question is, who will take over?
The informed view (though it’s still only guesswork) is that it will be a female presenter. Indeed, when Evans is off, his replacements are often women. Earlyy favourites to take his seat are Zoe Ball, Sara Cox and Jo Whiley although Simon Mayo may be the dark horse.
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Whither Evans? He is returning to Virgin Radio to host the Breakfast Show, which he has described as his “spiritual home” having previously hosted the show from 1997-2001.
The 52-year-old is the second highest-earning star at the BBC ? one can only speculate what his new salary will be and whether the decision was truly spiritual... rather than material.
What seems to be inevitably the case is that his listening audience will shrink. Currently he broadcasts to a staggering nine million plus listeners each week which is about a million more than Wogan at the end of his tenure. What can Evans expect on Virgin Radio? Well currently the station brings in around half a million listeners each week and Richard Branson (who describes luring Evans back as “a coup”) will surely be hoping the faded auburn-haired one will bring a percentage of his Radio 2 audience with him.
This year Evans has triumphed with some amazing guests on his BBC Breakfast Show including Muppets Kermit and Miss Piggy. When talking about the way they work, the world’s vainest pig said: “If it started with the letters ‘re’ we didn’t do it,” said Miss Piggy. “Research, rehearsal...”
And let’s not forget the moment cognitive neuroscientist Stefan played the William Tell overture with his teeth. “I don’t care what anyone says,” said Chris at the time, “this is radio gold.”
And that’s what we’ll miss, those off-the-wall moments that Evans inspires his guests and listeners to provide. While Wogan, master of the quick-witted retort, relied rather more on set-piece incoming mail and emails, Evans can embrace instant anarchy, even encourage it.
With that in mind, maybe the BBC should throw the net wider than its existing pool of broadcasters and find an undiscovered treasure ? maybe from television, maybe one of those vlogging types.
Of course, sustaining a show, every week day for three hours at a time is a big ask... especially when listeners are expecting to be set up for the day ahead; maybe on that commute by car ? facing traffic jams, roadworks and fretful weather conditions or maybe on the train journey with late arrival, hold ups at Shenstone, no buffet car and a replacement bus service. The Breakfast Show provides a huge public service and it is so important to have the right person in place.
Having said that, you can’t always tell who the right person is going to be. For many, the late Sir Terry Wogan was the right person and for numerous others Chris Evans is the right person. In between those two sets of people are those who loved Sir Tel and those who also love the yet-to-be-knighted Chris Evans. Among those who divide opinions are Vanessa Feltz and Steve Wright (in the afternoon); adored by some; sent crazy by others. Personally, I like the idea of a woman with a regional accent and a strong sense of humour. The Breakfast Show is a precious spot and it has been well-looked after by its long-serving incumbents. We knew, when Wogan left, that we would never hear his like again and so it is with Chris Evans. Now we need a new and unique broadcaster who can make it her own.
On with the motley.