Entertainment & Arts

BBC director: 'It's a blow to lose Chris Evans'

Chris Evans Image copyright PA
Image caption Chris Evans announced his imminent departure from Radio 2 on Monday

The BBC's director of radio and music has spoken of his disappointment at Chris Evans's resignation from the Radio 2 breakfast show.

Bob Shennan, who is the station's former controller, also admitted he had tried to persuade the star to stay.

Evans announced during Monday's show he was leaving - with it later emerging he would swap Radio 2's flagship show for that of DAB station Virgin Radio.

Shennan described Evans as "a lynchpin of Radio 2".

"Of course it's a blow to the BBC to lose someone like Chris," he said.

"He's been emblematic of everything that's been successful about BBC radio for getting on for 13 years now.

"We're disappointed to lose him but we have to respect that he wants to do something new.

"He's taken Breakfast to new heights," Shennan said, before adding: "But we'll bounce back."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Zoe Ball and Sara Cox are among the contenders to take over from Evans

Some of those already in the frame to take over following Evans's eight year tenure on Radio 2's breakfast show include Sara Cox, Zoe Ball and Claudia Winkleman.

"There will be a number of women who will be considered, of course," Shennan said. "There are [also] many able men. The most important thing that we do is to select the best and the right person."

'Restless talent'

The BBC director described it as "an extraordinarily exciting time for radio as a whole", but admitted he had tried to talk Evans out of going: "Of course," he said, "I know what a talent he is but I know he's a restless talent."

"And I realised that when it became a big creative challenge for him there was probably a limit to the amount we could do to persuade him to stay. Of course we wanted him to. but we respect the fact that he wants to go and do something else and we will hopefully continue to flourish.

The issue of Evans's pay has hit the headlines over recent years, when it was revealed in 2016 he was the BBC's top-paid star.

This year saw Evans down into second place, as well as an overall reduction of star pay.

When asked if he had left for the money, Shennan responded: "He told us really the creative challenge about the new opportunity was what he craved."

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