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Ross is welcome to return to the BBC fold (well, Radio 2, anyway)

Station controller says he would be happy to have his outgoing star back again

Ian Burrell,Media Editor
Saturday 17 July 2010 00:00 BST
(Enterprise News)

Jonathan Ross is already being lined up for a return to the BBC.

Ahead of today's broadcast of his final show on Radio 2, the head of the network said he hoped to persuade the star presenter to come back to the station in the near future.

Bob Shennan, controller of Radio 2 and 6 Music, told The Independent: "I'm pleased that he's leaving with a positive feeling about the BBC and that he's left Radio 2 with a good vibe between us, which means that if the right project turns up that maybe he will consider that.

"I hope that he's left the BBC in such a way that he's left the door open to come and do some more things."

Shennan said that he believed Ross's ITV contract did not prevent him working for other employers.

Having announced his departure from the BBC in January, Ross has signed a £1.5m contract to host a Friday night chat show on ITV next year. The tearful final episode of his BBC1 programme Friday Night With Jonathan Ross was shown last night. He has broadcast on Radio 2 since 1999 and his last show, which has been pre-recorded, features guest appearances from Tom Jones, Jedward and his fellow Radio 2 presenter Alan Carr.

Although it was an ill-advised piece of radio broadcasting – in which Ross made obscene remarks on the answering machine of actor Andrew Sachs during a guest appearance on Russell Brand's Radio 2 show in 2008 – that led to the deterioration of the presenter's relationship with the BBC, he has enjoyed great success in the medium. Shennan said that Ross had been the presenter who had done most to establish Radio 2 as the most popular station in the United Kingdom.

"Jonathan Ross has been an entry point to Radio 2 for millions of listeners over the past decade. I think that Jonathan – notwithstanding the difficulties over the last 18 months – was unquestionably the pivotal force in the renaissance of Radio 2 during that period. He was an inspirational choice at the time and has done a brilliant job," he said.

When Ross arrived at Radio 2's headquarters in London's Great Portland Street – dressed in baggy black trousers and a strange denim shirt with sleeves so long they covered his hands – he looked suitably depressed to be giving up a role he enjoys.

"I think it's a bit sad," said Shennan. "Because I think that he will be missed by many people for whom 10am on a Saturday morning means that you listen to Jonathan Ross on Radio 2. I think he's probably very proud of what he's achieved and so he should be." Ross began his radio career in 1987 when he stood in for Janice Long as a presenter on Radio 1.

He had his own show on Virgin Radio before joining Radio 2. He has twice been named Radio Personality of the Year. Ross will be replaced on Radio 2 by Graham Norton in the autumn, with Patrick Kielty hosting the show during the interim. Gary Farrow, a publicist for Ross, said the presenter would have plenty of other work options to consider when he returns from a year-long break.

"He's a big star; a consummate professional broadcaster and he's too good to be left by the wayside," he said.

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