Evans takes over Radio 2 show as rehabilitation continues

Chris Evans' return to top-level broadcasting was completed yesterday when the BBC announced he was to take over Johnnie Walker's Radio 2 drivetime show.

The job is his first daily radio show since being sacked by Virgin in 2001 ­ an event that triggered an extended sabbatical and saw him leave the UK and move to the United States with his wife Billie Piper.

Walker is stepping down after seven years and moving to a new Sunday slot.

Evans will start the new show on 18 April. He said: "To take over the drivetime show from Johnnie Walker is an absolute honour. The guy is a legend, he's also very special to me as he helped get me my first job at the BBC way back in 1990.

"As for the show itself, drivetime is hugely important. In many ways it mirrors the breakfast show as a transition for people between work and home. It's our job to help that journey be less of a thing to dread and more of a thing to look forward to."

The Radio 2 controller, Lesley Douglas, said: "Johnnie Walker is a hard act to follow. Chris Evans is a brilliant radio talent who has already scored a hit with his weekend show and I know he will give the audience a great new show for weekdays."

Evans has previously hosted breakfast shows on Radio 1 and Virgin Radio.

Walker took over the Radio 2 drivetime slot in 1999 and attracted two million extra listeners, making it the most listened to drivetime show in the UK. From April he will concentrate on rock interviews and a new Sunday programme. He will also host the Radio 2 Breakfast Show when Terry Wogan is on leave.

In 2003 he was diagnosed with cancer but returned to the airwaves the following year.