Chris Evans returns to Virgin Radio after quitting BBC Radio 2

Chris Evans will leave BBC Radio 2 after Christmas, after 13 years presenting at the station, to become the breakfast show host at the relaunched Virgin Radio.

With around nine million listeners, Evans’ breakfast show on Radio 2 is the has the biggest audience of any radio show in Europe.

Evans (pictured, above) hosted the breakfast show on the original Virgin Radio from 1997 to 2001. That station was rebranded as Absolute Radio in 2008, after its sale to new owners. In March 2016, Virgin Radio was relaunched by Wireless Group, which was acquired later that year by News UK.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, said the company’s ambition was to "drive Virgin Radio to become the number 1 digital radio station in the UK", according to Matthew Moore, media correspondent at News UK stablemate The Times.

Evans will present the show from a new studio in The News Building at London Bridge, Moore added.

Evans announced his departure on his show this morning, but said he would stay on until after Christmas.

He said: "In many ways Virgin Radio is my spiritual home. I see nothing but exciting and groundbreaking opportunities ahead. In a medium that is changing so quickly on a daily basis, the potential for growth is unprecedented."

Scott Taunton, chief executive of Wireless, said the hire was a "transformational moment" for Virgin Radio.

"Chris is the biggest name in radio and is synonymous with the brand," he said. "He has the most exciting breakfast show in the industry and has an energy that captivates audiences.

"This is the next stage of our radio revolution, giving us a world-class presenter and a nationally recognised breakfast show that will drive audience growth for the station, across DAB, our app and all forms of connected listening."

The current breakfast show hosts, Amy Voce and Sam Pinkman, will be offered a new slot at Virgin Radio.

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