Evans may be sacked after his five-day absence

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The Independent Online

Chris Evans will learn today whether his failure to turn up for work for five days running will cost him his job presenting Virgin Radio's breakfast show.

The station said last night it was "examining all options" and promised an announcement today. But it stuck to the line that the DJ was sick, despite sightings of him drinking in pubs and stocking up on supermarket wine.

Yesterday, an ITN camera crew spotted Mr Evans and his wife, the teenage singer Billie Piper, sneaking off to a pub near their £6m home in Hascombe, near Godalming, Surrey. Mr Evans refused to speak.

Virgin sources believe that 35-year-old Mr Evans will not return. "Chris won't be coming back – that is what we have all been hearing. He is fed up with presenting at that time in the morning," one said.

The station was not expecting Mr Evans for work yesterday and said it continued to believe the star was ill. It has been in contact with Mr Evans' agent, Michael Foster, but has not had personal dealings with the absentee presenter.

Speculation is mounting that Steve Penk, a popular DJ recently signed to Virgin from Capital FM, will take over the morning show, which has been presented by Russ Williams since Chris Evans staged his first no-show last week.

Mr Evans is the former owner of Virgin Radio, one of a number of assets he sold to the Scottish Media Group last year in a deal netting him millions. But he could forfeit up to £15m of shares if he quits the station before January.

Although he always seems bullishly confident and has often been billed as a ratings saviour, audience figures began to drop during his time on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast. He resigned from Radio 1 because he did not want to work on Fridays, but was then sacked by the station's controller, Matthew Bannister, when he failed to complete the final months of his contract.

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