Vanessa Feltz and Ken Bruce
Vanessa Feltz has branded the BBC “discourteous” and “disrespectful” over the way it handled Ken Bruce’s exit from Radio 2.
The veteran broadcaster vacated his early morning slot earlier this month, after more than 40 years with the broadcaster, claiming it was making him leave three weeks prematurely.
Ken called the decision to cut short his final weeks “a shame” prior to his final show on 3 March, with his former Radio 2 colleague Vanessa now going one step further.
Speaking to the Daily Express, she said: “After this incredibly long and amazingly distinguished career, to oust Ken Bruce two or three weeks before he was expecting to go and before his contract had actually played itself out, I thought that was incredibly discourteous and disrespectful and unnecessary.
“What was the point of it? Why would you do that? Why would you leave yourselves open to criticism? Bad manners, lack of gratitude, lack of respect. It was an absolutely extraordinary decision and I think Ken must have been upset by it because he wouldn’t have mentioned it. I think it must have hurt his feelings terribly.”
Vanessa, who left the BBC last year to join TalkTV, continued: “Why on earth would you want to hurt the feelings of a person who consistently over a period of 30-odd years has delivered more listeners than any other broadcaster in the entire country?
“Why would you not want him to serve out every last second of his contract and bless his name for doing that. Absolutely bewildering, I do not get that at all.”
Ken hosted his last Radio 2 show on 3 March
Ken previously told the Daily Mail newspaper that he “wasn’t given any real reason that I understood” by the BBC for the decision to have him host his final programme earlier than intended.
He later admitted his disappointment during an appearance on Radio 4′s Today programme, saying: “My belief is that, when I’m given a contract, I work to it and complete it.
“Over the last 46 years, I haven’t had very much time off, I’ve attempted to turn up whenever I’m required to turn up. So my natural feeling as a broadcaster is if I’ve got 17 days to do, I want to do them.”
A statement from the BBC said: “Ken decided to leave Radio 2 and it’s always been known he’s leaving in March.
“Returning to Wogan House [the station’s headquarters] for a week after a month of broadcasting the Piano Room sessions at Maida Vale provided a natural break. We wish Ken all the best for the future.”
Vanessa left the BBC in August last year
Following his Radio 2 exit, Ken will begin hosting a new show on Greatest Hits Radio in April, where he will continue to present his hugely popular music quiz segment, Popmaster.
Vernon Kay will take over Ken’s mid-morning slot from May onwards, with Gary Davies filling in until then.
Ken’s departure comes amid something of a mass exodus at Radio 2, with Steve Wright, Paul O’Grady, Vanessa Feltz and Craig Charles among those to have said farewell to either their show or the station in general in the last year.
Speaking to The Guardian in December, Vanessa described her decision to leave Radio 2 as “hellish” and “absolutely terrible”, but admitted she’d been concerned bosses were growing indifferent towards her.