Paul O'Grady announces departure from BBC Radio 2 Sunday afternoon show

Paul O’Grady in February 2022
Paul O’Grady is leaving BBC Radio 2 after 14 years. (Getty Images)

Paul O’Grady has quit BBC Radio 2 after 14 years hosting the Sunday afternoon slot.

The 67-year-old presenter and comedian has DJed Paul O'Grady on the Wireless on Sundays between five and seven pm since 2009, and has also presented the Christmas Day special on Radio 2 for many years.

O'Grady said: “I’ve loved doing my Sunday afternoon show for the last 14 years and I’m going to miss my listeners as well as the fun I’ve had with my producer Malcolm Prince, but I feel that now is the right time to go.”

Read more: BBC addresses Paul O'Grady schedule shake-up

His last programme will be on Sunday 14 August.

The former drag queen - who rose to fame as alter-ego Lily Savage - hinted at his departure on Instagram ahead of his show at the weekend, sharing a photograph of the BBC Radio 2 logo-ed microphone with his headphones hung up, captioned: "Penultimate show today. Hope you’re enjoying the sun unless you’re somewhere where it’s raining then ignore that."

Watch: Paul O'Grady meet the Duchess of Cornwall at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

Head of Radio 2 Helen Thomas said: “I’d like to thank Paul for so many years of his brilliant Sunday afternoon show. I’m sorry to see him go, but I wish Paul the very best of luck for the future and hope to work with him again as the door is always open to him here at Radio 2.”

O'Grady took a break form the airwaves between February and May, during which time he was replaced by comedian Rob Beckett.

He said at the time: “There’s a new regime now, I do 13 weeks on and then 13 off which is nothing to do with me as it’s a management decision."

Paul O'Grady hosts Saturday Night Line Up on ITV. (ITV)
Paul O'Grady hosts Saturday Night Line Up on ITV. (ITV)

Following complaints from listeners the BBC said: “Paul is much-loved by many of our listeners, and whilst we’re making this change to Sunday afternoons, he very much remains a firm favourite here in Wogan House.

"We’ve changed the broadcast pattern of Paul’s show so that he’s now on air for two 13 week series each year. This doesn’t significantly alter the number of shows he’s been signed up to do on Radio 2, but having this consistent pattern will make it a lot easier for us to signpost for listeners when he’s on air.

"Rather than have a range of deputies host the show throughout the year, we’ll now have Rob Beckett on Sunday afternoons with his own series, alternating with Paul’s.”

The statement went on to say that plans do “evolve”.

Rob Beckett
Rob Beckett will replace Paul O'Grady in the Sunday afternoon slot from Sunday 21 August. (PA)

It said: “We understand that listeners never want their favourite bits of the Radio 2 schedule to change, but our plans do evolve over time, and that’s the case here.”

Read more: Paul O'Grady almost died after petting wounded dog

Beckett, 36, is due to begin his 13 week run of shows on Sunday 21 August, and the BBC has said future plans for the slot will be announced in due course.

Watch: Paul O'Grady meet the Duchess of Cornwall at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home