Paul O’Grady says he can ‘run free’ after hosting his latest Radio 2 show |  Paul O’Grady

Paul O’Grady says he can ‘run free’ after hosting his latest Radio 2 show | Paul O’Grady

Paul O’Grady thanked his listeners and said he can now “run free” as he bid farewell to his final BBC Radio 2 show on Sunday.

O’Grady, 67, had hosted the Sunday afternoon show for almost 14 years before a change in schedule meant he shared the hosting role with comedian Rob Beckett, swapping every 13 weeks.

In a social media message posted before the show, he said his departure was due to the new arrangement.

“The reason I’m leaving, because everyone has asked me this, is because I wasn’t very happy with 13 weeks on and 13 weeks off,” he said in an Instagram post on Sunday.

“So I did the honorable thing, honored my contract, gave my notice, and now I’m leaving. Thank you very much and good luck to everyone at Radio 2 and may it continue for a long time”.

During his last show, he reflected on his time in the hot seat of his producer Malcolm Prince. “This is Paul O’Grady’s last Sunday show here at Radio 2. It’s hard to say this, Malcolm, because it’s been almost 14 years, hasn’t it?

“Do you know that this is one of the longest jobs I’ve ever had? I just came to do a few hours for Elaine Paige and look what happened.”

He continued: “Anyway, I always used to say I was running from the building and there was a big bubble that would catch me on Oxford Street and bring me back like a prisoner, but it’s not today and I can run free.

O’Grady thanked his listeners for tuning in and getting involved over the years. He also thanked his producer, saying, “I really appreciate it because, let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been the same without you, right?”

After playing her latest song, Friends by Bette Midler, she added: “From all of us here, from me and Malcolm and everyone, thank you for tuning in to these last 546 shows. So take care, stay safe and well. Tare everyone.”

The BBC confirmed that Beckett will return for at least another 13 weeks of shows from August 21.

O’Grady is the latest big-name host to leave the station. Steve Wright, also 67, was replaced by Scott Mills, 48, after 24 years with the network.

And in July, Vanessa Feltz, 60, announced she was leaving her shows on Radio 2 and BBC Radio London.

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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