Simon Mayo to leave Radio 2 after 17 years

The DJ will depart the Drivetime show he hosts with Jo Whiley later this year

Simon Mayo

Simon Mayo is to leave BBC Radio 2 after 17 years, departing the station’s Drivetime show just five months after Jo Whiley was brought in as a co-host.

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Whiley will also leave Drivetime, moving to a 7pm-9pm Monday to Thursday slot to present a new music show.

Mayo is a former Radio 1 breakfast show presenter who has worked at the BBC since 1981 and has presented the Radio 2 Drivetime slot since 2010.

Whiley joined him as co-presenter in May 2018, as the BBC sought to redress the gender imbalance of its presenting roster.

In a Radio Times interview earlier this year, Mayo revealed it was not his idea to have a co-host but said Whiley was “the only possible presenter I could imagine working with”.

The revamped Drivetime show failed to impress some listeners, to the extent that Radio 2 issued an official response to complaints.

“We acknowledge some regular listeners are unhappy with the changes,” it said. “Every new show needs time to settle down and so we hope listeners will continue to listen and give it a chance.”

Mayo will continue to co-host BBC Radio 5 Live’s popular Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review and has other projects in the pipeline.

“Obviously, I’m very sad to be leaving Radio 2, and my good friend Jo,” said Mayo in statement. “However, 2019 looks like being incredibly exciting for me.

“I have a new two-book deal with Transworld, my children’s series Itch is being filmed for TV in Australia in early 2019, and I’m continuing to develop my novel Mad Blood Stirring for a movie with screenwriter Jack Thorne.

“Plus the film show with Mark Kermode continues on 5 Live.”

Launching in January, Whiley’s new show promises “the very best new music and amazing live sessions”. She will also continue to present the Radio 2 In Concert series.

Whiley said: “I’m incredibly sad that Simon has decided to leave Radio 2. He’s a brilliant broadcaster, a great friend and I really will miss working with him.

“However, I’m very much looking forward to hosting a new show for a new year which will have music at the very heart of it as well as guests and live sessions. Dream show, actually. Can’t wait!”

Mayo also took to Twitter to defend his co-host from what he called the ‘appalling abuse’ she had received around the ‘reconfiguring’ of Drivetime.

“Maybe it needs to be said, maybe not but so there is no room for argument I’ll be clear,” he wrote. “I’ve loved working with the exceptional Jo Whiley and when the show was ‘reconfigured’ she was my first and only choice.

“Some of the abuse she has had here has been appalling. Support for a show is one thing, assaulting the dignity of a warm-hearted and loyal friend is another.

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“So by all means discuss what’s happening here, but let’s keep some civility. Thank you. Here endeth the lesson.”