The BBC has responded to listeners who they say are unhappy with recent changes made to Paul O’Grady’s show on BBC Radio 2.
O’Grady, 66, has hosted the Sunday evening 5-7pm slot on Radio 2 for almost 13 years, but a new schedule change now sees him share the slot with comedian Rob Beckett.
As part of a new schedule, the duo will present their shows alternately, each for 13 weeks at a time.
Following the change, the BBC has issued a response explaining that despite O’Grady’s valued presence on the show, plans “do evolve over time”.
In a statement the corporation 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.
“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.
“Paul will be back on Sunday 22 May for another 13-week run.”
O’Grady presented his final show on February 13 before beginning his break.
Following the broadcast, the radio presenter, who is also known by his drag queen persona Lily Savage, updated his Instagram followers on the new scheduling arrangements, saying it’s “nothing to do with me”.
In a message posted on February 13, alongside a picture of him with his dog Sausage, he said: “It’s my last Radio 2 Sunday show for quite some time, our listening figures have shot up so a great big thank you to everyone who listens.
“While I’m on the subject I’d also like to thank my producer (sounds very grand) Malcolm Prince who is one of the best in the business and hasn’t cracked once in the 14 years we’ve been on air.
“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. So, all being well and providing I’m not in India or Borneo, travel restrictions permitting, I should be back some time in May. Take it easy.”
Beckett, known for 8 Out of 10 Cats and All Together Now, presented his new show in the Sunday evening slot for the first time on February 20.