Show's over for the man who saved Radio 1 from 'Smashie and Nicey'

 

The man who saved BBC Radio 1 from ridicule by rescuing its credibility in the wake of the "Smashie and Nicey" era yesterday announced he was leaving the station after 13 years.

Andy Parfitt, the longest-serving controller in the network's 44-year history, said he would "pursue new opportunities". The suddenness of the decision, and the fact he will leave the BBC as soon as next week, came as a shock to the team of loyal presenters he has handpicked for a schedule that is attracting record-breaking audiences.

Breakfast presenter Chris Moyles, who Parfitt has supported through a series of controversies, described the controller as his "friend" and said he would "miss working, laughing and arguing with him". Fearne Cotton said she was "gutted" and Scott Mills said it was "a sad day". DJ Pete Tong reflected that "dance music on Radio 1 would not have been possible without the vision and passion of the brilliant" Parfitt.

It has been known for some time that the BBC veteran of 32 years , who has become synonymous with the youth network, wished to spend more time at his Cornish farmhouse. Sources at BBC Radio 1 said his deputy, Ben Cooper, would move smoothly into the role of acting controller of both Radio 1 and digital urban music station 1Xtra. Two of Parfitt's other roles – head of the Asian Network and controller of popular music – have passed to the BBC Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan.

The changes come a month after a report on BBC Radio recommended a combined management structure of Radio 1 and Radio 2. Tim Davie, the BBC's director of audio and music, rejected the suggestion by the report's author John Myers that the two networks should have one controller. The BBC is under pressure to streamline as it moves its radio services under one roof in London's Broadcasting House, and these changes are likely to deliver some cost savings if Cooper is appointed Parfitt's successor without a deputy.

Parfitt distinguished himself as a skilful manager of presenting talent, and showed insight into the youth audience. While filling the evening schedule with specialist presenters such as Zane Lowe, Tim Westwood and Annie Mac, he was careful to retain a mainstream appeal in the daytime so the station did not feel elitist. Michael Gubbins, content manager of Music Week, a music industry website, said Parfitt left "with Radio 1 in a healthy state".

"When you think of the challenges in the market Radio 1 should be suffering, he has kept it relevant," he said.

As chief assistant to former controller Matthew Bannister nearly 20 years ago, Parfitt helped reposition the network as it parted company with an older generation of presenters such as Dave Lee Travis, Simon Bates and Tony Blackburn. But despite his youthful appearance, Parfitt knew that at 52 he could not remain forever in charge of a station that targets an audience of 15- to 29-year-olds.

In an email to staff, Parfitt said he had come to his decision "after a long period of deliberation" and he was confident the stations were "in great shape" and with "a clear plan for the future".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project