As Wogan goes, can Evans appease the Old Gits?

The news that Britain’s favourite broadcaster, Terry Wogan, is to retire from Radio 2 and be replaced on the flagship breakfast show by Chris Evans, who is 28 years his junior, has prompted claims that the BBC is neglecting a major part of its audience.

Evans, 43, is a former host of the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show where he successfully entertained listeners with his “zoo” style of studio-based sidekicks and suggestively-titled features such as “Honk Your Horn” and “In Bed with Your Girlfriend”.

Wogan, 71, began hosting the Radio 2 breakfast show in 1972 and has amassed an audience of 7.93m, including his dedicated following of TOGs (“Terry’s Old Gits”). The changeover will take place early next year when Wogan will move to a new weekend slot.

The switch prompted claims today that Radio 2, which is required under its service remit to serve listeners of 35 and upwards, is ignoring its older audience.

The broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell, who was appointed by the government as a Voice of Older People, said: “As the younger people push the oldies off their perches there’s a sense that the target audience is getting younger. Who is catering for the TOGs? My heart sinks for the Terry fans who would like to have something in his tone – his lilting, comforting style – rather than what might be the more abrasive style of Chris Evans.”

The commercial radio sector also complained that its stations were being “squeezed” as Radio 1 and Radio 2 moved ever closer together, making it almost impossible for privately-run networks to deliver audiences in the 25-45 age range that advertisers often demand.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of RadioCentre, the trade body for commercial radio groups in the UK, said: “The average age of the Radio 2 listener has been getting younger for the past decade with all the programming changes that have been made. Terry must deliver quite a lot of older listeners to Radio 2 and bring in someone 30 years younger is bound to bring the average age of the audience down further.”

He praised Wogan as a “national icon and wonderful broadcaster” and accepted that he would have to be replaced at some stage but questioned whether Evans was the appropriate replacement.

“It’s less than a decade ago that he was known as a Radio 1 disc jockey and host of late-night Friday television who was married to (actor) Billie Piper. It’s not a criticism of Chris Evans’s abilities which I think are pretty good, it’s more that it’s another indication that Radio 2 is chasing younger audiences.”

The row comes at a time when the service licence for Radio 2 is being reviewed by the BBC Trust, the body which oversees the corporation. RadioCentre has made a submission to the review, pointing out that the average age of a Radio 2 listener has fallen in the past decade from 53 to 50, in spite of the average age of the population in the over 35 sector having increased from 53 to 54 and being set to grow further.

Over the last ten years, the average age of Radio 2’s weekly daytime presenters has fallen from 55 (when Jimmy Young was still broadcasting) to 50 when Evans and his anticipated replacement, Simon Mayo of Radio 5 Live, join the line up. Radio 1 has recently come under fire for having an average listener age of 33, outside of its remit of serving 15-29 year olds.

Evans, who made his name as the host of the fast-moving Channel 4 television shows Big Breakfast, TFI Friday and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, made a fortune from the sale of his Ginger Media Company and has a collection of six white Ferrari sports cars. He was brought to Radio 2 by previous controller Lesley Douglas, who also hired the comedian Russell Brand before he was sacked over the “Manuelgate” obscene phone call scandal. As host of the Radio 2 drive-time show Evans has been a great success, building an audience of 5m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Advertising Sales Consultant - OTE £30k

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Gloucestershire's most innovati...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Advertising Sales Consultant - OTE £40k

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Gloucestershire's most innovati...

Recruitment Genius: Advertising Sales Consultant - OTE £50,000

£24000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Gloucestershire's most innovati...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders