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Simon Mayo confirms he is quitting Radio 2

By | Published on Tuesday 23 October 2018

Simon Mayo

Simon Mayo has announced he is departing Radio 2, just months after his drive time show was revamped to include Jo Whiley as a co-presenter, a change that aimed to introduce a little more gender diversity into the BBC station’s day-time schedule.

The revamp – and the pairing of Mayo and Whiley – was generally panned by critics and seemed to be unpopular with many listeners too. There were also reports of tensions behind the scenes, with some arguing that management had fucked up a popular show in order to tick some boxes, albeit as part of an important move to try and get a little more diversity on a station with a very uniform line-up.

Officially Mayo is quitting so he can spend more time on his projects beyond broadcasting. He said: “Obviously, I’m very sad to be leaving Radio 2 and my good friend Jo. However, 2019 looks like being incredibly exciting for me. I have a new two book deal with Transworld, my children’s series ‘Itch’ is being filmed for TV in Australia in early 2019, and I’m continuing to develop my novel ‘Mad Blood Stirring’ for a movie with screenwriter Jack Thorne”.

He later addressed the rumours that the Whiley pairing had motivated his departure from the BBC station on Twitter. “Maybe it needs to be said, maybe not, but so there is no room for argument I’ll be clear”, he wrote. “I’ve loved working with the exceptional Jo Whiley and when the show was ‘reconfigured’ she was my first and only choice. Some of the abuse she has had here has been appalling. Support for a show is one thing, assaulting the dignity of a warmhearted and loyal friend is another”.

Mayo will continue to host his film show with Mark Kermode on BBC Radio 5 Live, while Whiley will return to an evening slot on Radio 2. Which means that a new drive time host will now be sought. Sara Cox, previously tipped for the vacant breakfast show slot that subsequently went to Zoe Ball, is favourite for the new late afternoon programme.