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Mayo departure to trigger Radio 2 schedule refresh

Simon Mayo announces he's leaving BBC Radio 2, putting an end to an unpopular partnership at drivetime.

Drivetime co-presenter Jo Whiley will move to a new 7-9pm weeknight show from January, meaning there's a vacancy for the 5pm to 7pm slot - the BBC says it will announce more details about Radio 2's early evening schedule shortly.

Simon Mayo has been on drivetime since 2010. But a change to the slot, which included an extension to 8pm and saw Jo Whiley joining as co-presenter proved unpopular with listeners, leading to complaints.

The DJ will continue to present his Friday afternoon film review show with Mark Kermode on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, said:
"Simon is a fantastic broadcaster, and I’d like to thank him for entertaining millions of Radio 2 listeners with his wit and warmth over the years. Everyone at the station wishes Simon the very best of luck for what promises to be a very exciting future, and he'll be missed at Wogan House. With Simon leaving, we’ve taken this opportunity to take a fresh look at the schedule, and create a show for Jo which will focus on her passion for music."

Simon added:
“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. Plus the film show with Mark Kermode continues on 5 live. Radio 2 has been a quite wonderful experience - my happiest in radio I think - but new adventures beckon and I cannot wait to get started.”

Jo Whiley responded
 "I’m incredibly sad that Simon has decided to leave Radio 2. He’s a brilliant broadcaster, a great friend and I really will miss working with him. However, I’m very much looking forward to hosting a new show for a new year which will have music at the very heart of it as well as guests and live sessions. Dream show, actually. Can’t wait!"

Earlier this month, the Sun reported on speculation that Simon Mayo had been approached by Smooth Radio in their bid to develop a national service, pending Ofcom changes to rules that would allow it and other commercial stations to reduce the amount of locally produced programmes in favour of offering single networked breakfast show across all of its local FM and DAB outlets.

On Twitter, Simon Mayo indicated that "other radio adventures" were on the horizon:

Simon Mayo is the latest high profile radio presenter to depart the BBC and follows hot on the heels of Chris Evan's departure announcement, which will result in Zoe Ball taking over the Radio 2 breakfast show in January.