Richard Coles says he felt ‘hurtled towards the exit’ by BBC

<span>Photograph: Ian West/PA</span>
Photograph: Ian West/PA

The Rev Richard Coles has said he “felt rather hurtled towards the exit” after leaving the BBC this year.

The broadcaster, 61, stepped down from his Radio 4 programme Saturday Live in March after 12 years.

It followed the BBC’s decision to relocate the programme, which he co-hosts with Nikki Bedi, from London to Cardiff. He presented his final show on 25 March.

“I felt rather hurtled towards the exit. Working for an organisation like the BBC, you devote your energies to it and yet they perhaps don’t always respond with similar devotion,” Coles told the Radio Times.

“It’s a great national institution, and more power to its elbow. It would just be nice if it could distinguish that elbow from its arse sometimes.”

The former Church of England parish priest is also a regular guest panellist on BBC comedy programmes such as QI, Would I Lie To You? and Have I Got News for You. He retired from clerical duties last year.

Coles said he was disappointed at the way the BBC handled his departure. The broadcaster made a statement only five days before his final show and the announcement was flagged to journalists as a note in an email accompanying a press release about the content of that weekend’s Saturday Live.

Coles signed off from his radio show by thanking listeners for “sharing their stories, surprising and moving us – a nosy man could ask for no better job”.

The Communards: Richard Coles (left) and Jimmy Somerville in 1985
The Communards: Richard Coles (left) and Jimmy Somerville in 1985. Photograph: Ilpo Musto/Rex/Shutterstock

In March, he said he would have preferred the programme to stay in London. His co-host Bedi, 56, has stayed on to present the weekend series in Cardiff. “Moving it to Cardiff, I don’t really see how that works, but that’s not my decision – that’s other people’s decision,” he said.

Coles, who is also a musician and was in synth-pop duo the Communards alongside Jimmy Somerville, presents a podcast called The Rabbit Hole Detectives with archaeologist Dr Cat Jarman and historian Charles Spencer. Over the series, they chase “the provenance of historical objects both real and metaphorical”.

Related: Murder Before Evensong by Richard Coles audiobook review – a cosy mystery with charm

The BBC said it “invited both presenters to Cardiff to continue the programme” and “his departure was marked on the final show, and he was given space to say farewell to listeners on air”.

Coles’s comments about his exit echo those of Ken Bruce. The former Radio 2 DJ suggested the corporation brought forward his leaving date when he stepped down in March.