Chris Evans, has announced he will be leaving the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show after eight years at the helm, and 13 years at the station.
“I’m going to leave. I’m leaving Radio 2,” he told listeners, but promised he’d stay on air until Christmas.
Explaining the decision, he said: “Some of us are mountain climbers [but] if you get to the top of your favourite mountain and you stay there, you become an observer.
“I want to keep climbing.”
After the announcement, he played The Beatles’ Twist and Shout, adding: “You have to keep shaking it up.”
The broadcaster took over from Sir Terry Wogan in 2010, and the breakfast show regularly attracts 9m listeners more than any other UK radio programme.
He is currently the second highest-paid star, earning £1.6 million per year.
Evans and his wife Natasha are currently expecting twins; and the star said his decision to leave had been “big news in our house over the past few weeks and months”.
He said he’d been deliberating the decision for a year.
“A few weeks ago I made my mind up for sure,” he said, adding he wanted to “start up on a brand new adventure”.
‘Loved every second’
Evans first joined Radio 2 in September 2005 as the host of the Saturday afternoon show, moving to drive time in April 2006 and the breakfast show in January 2010.
During that time, he has also presented The One Show and the poorly-received first series of Top Gear following its relaunch in 2016.
But it is his radio show, with its warm and energetic mix of interviews, music and trivia, where the broadcaster truly excelled, creating a familial atmosphere with segments like Kids Get a Fanfare and Listener Breaking News.
The children’s writing competition 500 Words will remain part of the breakfast show after his departure, Evans said.>
More from Chris on today's news… pic.twitter.com/SUwC9WSliR
— 🎄 BBC Radio 2 🎄 (@BBCRadio2) September 3, 2018
The broadcaster revealed his decision shortly after 8:00 BST, after hinting at a “big announcement” throughout his Monday morning show.
The 52-year-old said he had “loved every second” of presenting the breakfast programme, but “I don’t want this to be it”.
He added that his final scheduled show was on Friday 21 December but he’d like to bow out with a Christmas Eve special.
Although it is too early for his successor to be announced, Evans wished them well.
“Whoever takes over this show, good for you because it’s the best. It’s the best.”
Zoe Ball, who regularly stands in for Evans when he’s on holiday, was among the first to react to his departure.
Flippin eck. CHRIS EVANS. You absolute legend. Always been such an inspiration, all learnt so much from you. Proper shocker on a Monday morning. You will be most missed Mr. Big big ❤️ https://t.co/oJle1MDsyV
— Zoe Ball (@ZoeTheBall) September 3, 2018
Other Radio 2 names who could replace the star include Sara Cox and Simon Mayo.
“My prediction is it will probably be a female broadcaster,” said Tony Blackburn, a former host of Radio 1’s breakfast show.
“Whoever takes it over will have quite a job on their hands,” he told . “The breakfast show is the most important show of the day.”
Other broadcasters reacted with surprise to Evans’ announcement.
Chris Evans to leave @BBCRadio2. It has always been a brilliant show and he has presented it magnificently. Massive slippers to fill for someone.
— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) September 3, 2018
NO, NOT CHRIS EVANS NOOOO DON'T GO CHRIS!
NOBODY ELSE COULD FILL THOSE SHOES! NOOOOO…
— Hacker T Dog (@HackerTDog) September 3, 2018
In a statement,director general Tony Hall said: “Chris has been an absolutely first class presenter of the Breakfast Show. He has brought both warmth and a genuine insight into what listeners want.
“He has given 100 percent to each of his projects, including raising millions of pounds for Children in Need. I’d like to thank him for all his efforts over the years and wish him all the best for the future.”