‘It’s been frustrating’: Reverend Richard Coles shares sadness at ‘rushed’ BBC Radio 4 departure

‘It’s been frustrating’: Reverend Richard Coles shares sadness at ‘rushed’ BBC Radio 4 departure

The Reverend Richard Coles has admitted feeling “frustrated” after news of his departure from Radio 4 was quietly announced five days before his final show.

The member of the clergy and TV personality has hosted Saturday Live on the station for 12 years, but will present his last show on Saturday (25 March), following the BBC’s decision to move the weekly programme from London to Cardiff. Both Coles and his co-host Nikki Bedi were given the option to relocate with the show; Coles declined the offer, while Bedi will continue in the role.

The news of Coles’s departure was announced on Tuesday (21 March) night as part of a press release about this weekend’s programming. A major announcement was not made as the BBC was in talks with Coles about his involvement in future projects on Radio 4.

However, speaking to The Guardian, Coles shared his disappointment that the news hadn’t been announced in its own right, or shared sooner, given that the decision had been made “weeks ago”.

“If you leave a programme after 12 years, a gentler process would have been nice. But what happens happens,” he said.

“It just feels a little bit rushed. It’s been frustrating for me, having to wait for an announcement, and now it’s my last programme on Saturday. I’d rather have had a longer goodbye to listeners.”

As the news of his departure hadn’t been publicly announced, the 60-year-old said he hadn’t received a single message from his fans. “I haven’t heard from any listeners yet,” he said. “I don’t think it’s been on Twitter or anything. Perhaps people just think, ‘Oh well.’

Coles has presented ‘Saturday Live’ since March 2011 (BBC/Hungry McBear/Gary Moyes)
Coles has presented ‘Saturday Live’ since March 2011 (BBC/Hungry McBear/Gary Moyes)

“It just feels a bit sad. I’m sorry to go; I’ve loved the programme, I’ve loved the people I’ve worked with, and it’s been a big part of my life. I shall miss it.”

In his original statement, shared by the BBC with The Independent, Coles said: “After more than a decade on Saturday Live the time has come to do something different, spend some time on other projects and get my weekends back.

“I’ve loved my stint on the programme, my wonderful colleagues, guests and listeners, and most of all hearing people’s stories – catnip for a nosey man. I look forward to reappearing on the network in the future and wish the best to Nikki as Saturday Live continues.”

A BBC spokesperson told The Guardian: “Richard has been brilliant on Saturday mornings and very much continues to be part of the Radio 4 family. We look forward to working with him on future projects.”

The decision to relocate Saturday Live out of London comes as part of the BBC’s “Across the UK” strategy, which will see it move programmes away from the capital.