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Reverend Richard Coles, 60, has admitted feeling “frustrated” after news of his departure from BBC Radio 4 was quietly announced five days before his final show. The broadcaster has spoken out on his “rushed” exit and shared how he believes the BBC should have handled things in a new interview.
Richard hosted Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4 for an incredible 12 years but will present his last show this Saturday.
This follows the BBC’s decision to move the weekly programme from London to Cardiff, with Richard and his co-host Nikki Bedi being given the choice to relocate.
While his co-host took up the offer, Richard declined, with the news of his departure being announced yesterday.
A major announcement was not made as the BBC was in talks with Richard about his involvement in future projects on Radio 4.
However, speaking to The Guardian, Richard has shared his disappointment that the news hadn’t been announced in its own right, or shared sooner, given that the decision was made “weeks ago”.
He said: “If you leave a programme after 12 years, a gentler process would have been nice. But what happens happens.
“It just feels a little bit rushed. It’s been frustrating for me, having to wait for an announcement, and now it’s my last programme on Saturday. I’d rather have had a long goodbye to listeners.”
As the news of his departure has not been publicly announced, the member of the clergy admitted he has not received a single message from fans.
He admitted: “I haven’t heard from any listeners yet. I don’t think it’s been on Twitter or anything. Perhaps people just think, ‘Oh well’.
“It just feels a bit sad. I’m sorry to go; I’ve loved the programme, I’ve loved the people I’ve worked with, and it’s been a big part of my life. I shall miss it.”
Richard’s departure was flagged in a brief note in an email to journalists accompanying a press release with his departure failing even to earn its own dedicated announcement.
In Richard’s original statement, shared by the BBC, he said: “After more than a decade on Saturday Live the time has come to do something different, spend some time on other projects and get my weekends back.
“I’ve loved my stint on the programme, my wonderful colleagues, guests and listeners, and most of all hearing people’s stories – catnip for a nosey man.
“I look forward to reappearing on the network in the future and wish the best to Nikki as Saturday Live continues.”
A BBC spokesperson has since told The Guardian: “Richard has been brilliant on Saturday mornings and very much continues to be part of the Radio 4 family. We look forward to working with him on future projects.”
The decision to relocate Saturday Live comes as part of the BBC’s ‘Across the UK’ strategy, which will see programmes move out of London.
Richard’s departure is in deep contrast to that of Ken Bruce, who recently left his BBC Radio 2 programme after 31 years.
The BBC flagged his departure in a dedicated statement a month in advance of his final show, then released pictures of his last broadcast.
Ken left his Radio 2 show earlier than anticipated after the BBC asked him not to complete his contract, a decision he said he was disappointed by.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s entirely within the BBC’s right to ask me to step away a little early.
“But for the sake of 17 days, which was all that was remaining [on my contract], it seems a shame.”
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