The BBC faced a backlash today after Radio 2 paid tribute to Paul O’Grady just months after the veteran DJ quit when he was told to share his duties with a younger presenter.
O’Grady, who died last night aged 67, left his Sunday afternoon slot last August after almost 14 years, following a schedule shake-up which saw him regularly swapping with Rob Beckett.
The star admitted at the time that he left the station because he ‘wasn’t really happy with the 13 weeks on, 13 weeks off business’.
It came after a push by Radio 2 to attract younger listeners by recruiting younger talent sparked an ageism row and triggered an exodus of older talent including Ken Bruce and Steve Wright.
Paul O’Grady left his Sunday afternoon slot on Radio 2 in August last year after almost 14 years
The BBC issued a tribute on the Radio 2 Twitter today, saying it was ‘incredibly saddened’
Paul O’Grady with producer Malcolm Prince in a publicity photograph released on March 21 ahead of their planned one-off Easter Sunday radio show on Boom Radio
A schedule shake-up on Radio 2 saw O’Grady regularly swapping with Rob Beckett (pictured)
Today, a tribute tweet by Radio 2 said: ‘We’re incredibly saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Paul O’Grady.
‘Paul was a brilliant broadcaster and incredible comedian. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. We’ll miss you Paul.’
But this prompted a series of angry responses, with one saying: ‘You’ll miss him? We’ve missed him since you pushed him off air. Paul was a wonderful broadcaster and deserved much better than the shabby treatment he received from Radio 2.’
Another said: ‘Unfortunately this doesn’t feel so heartfelt from the BBC considering he lost his brilliant show. He was a genuine real entertainer and he will be greatly missed.’
And a third tweeted: ‘Paul’s Sunday show on Radio 2 was loved by many devoted listeners. Without any just reason, you brought it to an end. I find your sentiments rather disingenuous today. Paul was one of the best and he deserved better.’
Other said the BBC ‘didn’t treat him well’ and that Radio 2 ‘gushing over Paul O’Grady is rich considering they didn’t think he was good enough to remain on their station’.
Just before his final show last year, O’Grady said in an Instagram video: ‘The reason I’m leaving, because everybody’s asked me this, is because I wasn’t really happy with the 13 weeks on, 13 weeks off business.
‘So I did the honourable thing, I honoured my contract, gave my notice in and now I’m off. Anyway, thanks very much and good luck to everyone on Radio 2 and long may it continue. See you.’
And, speaking to metro.co.uk last month to promote his tour of Annie, O’Grady was asked whether he was ‘disappointed’ at having to share his slot with Rob Beckett.
He said: ‘I was, because I’m a great believer in continuity. If you go off for 13 weeks and somebody else comes on, the listeners don’t know when you’re back on.
‘Radio 2 has changed, it’s not what it was. They’re trying to aim for a much younger audience, which doesn’t make sense because you’ve got Radio 1. Radio 2 was always for an older audience.’
This morning, Lorna Clarke, director of music at the BBC, said in a statement that the corporation was ‘shocked and saddened’ by O’Grady’s death.
She added: ‘He was a much-loved presenter to the Radio 2 audience, and his unique sense of humour, charm and warmth touched the hearts of many.
‘Paul will be hugely missed and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time.’
Ms Clarke said Radio 2 presenters Jeremy Vine and Zoe Ball would pay tribute to O’Grady during their programmes today.
O’Grady had joined Boom Radio – an independent station aimed at Baby Boomers – and appeared on the station for a Christmas special last year with his longtime producer and friend Malcolm Prince.
They were also due to return to the station for a one-off show on Easter Sunday, and bosses hoped they would soon have him presenting more regularly.
David Lloyd, co-founder of Boom Radio, told MailOnline: ‘Paul loved his radio – and it suited him so well. Following the Easter show, we had every expectation that he would have started a more regular commitment with us later in the year.
‘Many of our listeners are already asking if we will re-run his Christmas Day show on Easter Day. It may well be the most fitting tribute to a broadcaster who was at the top of his game.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk