FEATURE: A New Dawn: Who Should Succeed Chris Evans on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show?




 A New Dawn


IN THIS PHOTO: Chris Evans/PHOTO CREDIT: BBC Pictures/Getty Images 

Who Should Succeed Chris Evans on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show?


SOME big announcements have come out…


PHOTO CREDIT: Max Tollworthy/Goff Photos

of BBC over the past few weeks. Not only is there is the shake-up at BBC Radio 6 Music – a few swaps and shifts in terms of the line-up – but Chris Evans has announced he is leaving BBC Radio 2. He has been at the helm for eight years (at the station for thirteen years) and it is a big shock. I guess everyone has to leave at some point but I feel it is a strange time for him to go. Maybe he has done everything he can at the station but, considering he has such good ratings and an army behind him, I wonder whether there are personal reasons for his departure. Evans has been hosting breakfast shows, on radio and T.V., for decades and I feel his natural home is at BBC Radio 2. I am not one of his loyal fans – I listen to BBC Radio 6 Music at that time of day – but it is clear he has a verve, enthusiastic approach and respects his listeners. I guess the station has already selected his replacement but people are pitching which presenters should take over. There are some ridiculous and strange choices - Emma Bunton and Jamie Theakston are among those tipped! They host the breakfast show on Heart FM and, as Evans moved to Virgin; could the duo come across to BBC Radio 2? I feel they do not have the pull and style of show that would suit the station.


IN THIS PHOTO: Richard Bacon/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I feel the replacement for Chris Evans needs to come from the station itself – in the same way BBC Radio 6 Music brought Lauren Laverne into the breakfast slot to take over from Shaun Keaveny. I argue against having Simon Mayo in the slot because I do not think he has the energy and type of demeanour that would urge one to tune into the show. There have been a lot of male name tipped but I think a female presenter would be a better choice. Richard Bacon is another name dropped and, whilst he has experience and would be a solid host; BBC Radio 2 need to start making changes regarding gender and not go with male options. I was annoyed when Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo were paired in an evening slot and, whilst they are great individually, they do not have any connection or chemistry together. It seemed like a way of BBC Radio 2, in a rather feeble way, of having a woman in a primetime-ish slot. They could have had Whiley present solo or found a better partnership to fill a lucrative show like that. Breakfast is a time of day when we all start to tune in and need that lift. Evans’ captaincy has gained BBC Radio 2 millions of listeners and he can certainly get you up and awake!


IN THIS PHOTO: Claudia Winkleman/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It is sad to see him leave but, when thinking of his replacement, you need that relatable energy and a personality that is warm and interesting but has a bit of a cheeky side. Claudia Winkleman has a hectic schedule. She presents a Sunday evening show on BBC Radio 2 and hosts Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly. Maybe doing a weekday breakfast show alongside all that will be a bit much! I was thinking the two who will duke it out for the vacant breakfast show is Sara Cox and Zoë Ball. Both already have shows on BBC Radio 2 – Cox presents an evening show and Ball hosts Saturday afternoons – and they know the station’s layout. They are experienced and have a great rapport with their listeners. Both have similar energy and enthusiasm and you get a distinct style from each. I feel Ball is the warmer and more comforting voice whilst Cox, in a way, a bit more spirited and vivacious. There is not a lot to distinguish between Ball and Cox in that way: both are stalwarts and could produce incredible shows. I feel, for me, Sara Cox is the natural choice. I love Zoë Ball’s voice and presentation; the way she can get you in a great mood and has a vast knowledge of music.



Her Saturday afternoon show is a brilliant formula and, whilst she could easily translate to weekdays; we need her at the weekend to keep us buzzing and moving – maybe a six-day stint would be a bit too much to ask!? She has presented a Saturday breakfast show before and knows what lies in store. Sara Cox has stood in for Chris Evans before and, come Christmas, I would like to see her named as his successor. There is a lot of talk regarding the gender pay gap in radio and how there are not really any solo female D.J.s in the big shows. All the drivetime shows are male-helmed or have a male-female duo. I think Lauren Laverne’s breakfast promotion on BBC Radio 6 Music should be paired on BBC Radio 2. She has proven how she can handle the role and easily slot into the void. She presents a 1980s show and can unearth the best of the decade but, like Ball, has a width range of tastes and, if anything, can bring a more contemporary and ‘cool’ edge to breakfast (compared to Evans). There is no doubting she would be a popular choice and not have to fight hard to convert Evans’ fans. You need someone who can hit the floor running and not need much time to bed-in. The big questions would be, if Cox came in, who would take her evening slot? You’d have to have a swap around but I think you could find a good replacement.



Cox deserves a larger audience and I know she would tackle the breakfast show with plenty of vim, humility and dedication. One reason why Chris Evans transferred to Virgin was the fact he is expecting twins! Maybe it is a bit less hectic and pressurised on the Virgin slot and he would more easily be able to shift family duties and the radio. Sara Cox has children but is not, so far as I know, expecting any new deliveries! A big problem we have in radio is certain stations having a set demographic. Lauren Laverne moving to BBC Radio 6 Music’s breakfast show will keep Keaveny’s followers firm and bring her listeners across. Keaveny will be able to keep a solid fanbase and, in fact, both D.J.s are hugely popular and have a similar age demographic. Greg James replaced Nick Grimshaw on BBC Radio 1 and that seemed like a sensible swap. I feel BBC Radio 1 has an issue converting slightly older listeners and, whilst that might be down to the music they play; are they being too rigid regarding the age and style of the D.J.s? I feel BBC Radio 6 Music is broader so does not suffer the same fate. BBC Radio 2 is seen as the place where middle-aged and older listeners go. Even though the average age of a D.J. at the station is probably in the forties or fifties; that is not to say they cannot recruit younger listeners. I thinking someone like Zoë Ball or Sarah Cox could attract younger listeners and new demographics.



Positive changes regarding gender promotion need to be at the forefront of the mindset of those who will make the decision. I can understand if they hire Richard Bacon but look at some of the suggested names and there are few strong male choices. Who are you going to bring in that could replace Chis Evans? I am casing my mind and nobody springs to mind (in terms of the men). Simon Mayo, as I said, is a bad option and you really need to recruit from within the station. Because of that, the two favourites would be Zoë Ball and Sara Cox. Cox has the slight edge and I feel she could keep the pace and popularity of Chris Evans’ show going and bring in younger listeners! I am not going to jump from the BBC Radio 6 Music ship but I would dip in now and then, certianly. Being the BBC, they will probably make the wrong choice but I have faith they will do the sensible thing. Evans is a popular presenter but I feel you need to hire a replacement that keeps many of his traits and brings something new to the plate. We need to keep the energy up there are very few D.J.s who have his same electricity and oomph. Sara Cox would be a great selection and I would be interested to see what she does. In any case; thinking about gender should be paramount for the chiefs at BBC Radio 2. It is sad to see Chris Evans leave such a popular show but he wants to accomplish new things and take on fresh challenges. What they will be and what he has in mind will be curious to see but I know he is a big asset to Virgin. Many will be waiting with baited breath to see who succeeds him but, whoever it is, will surely have…


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

VERY big shoes to fill!