Vernon Kay has revealed how he often bumps into predecessor Ken Bruce on his way to work after taking over the DJ’s BBC Radio 2 show earlier this year.
The former Family Fortunes host, 49, proved there was no hard feelings between the pair and said they regularly enjoy a catch up on the journey.
Ken, 72, jumped ship to join commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio in March after hosting the same BBC slot since 1986 – with Vernon announced as his replacement two months later.
Vernon told The Radio Times: ‘We take the same train every morning! He gets on a few stops further down the line but we bump into each other all the time – we say hello and have a chinwag’.
Discussing the big shoes he had to fill Vernon said: ‘Ken did 31 years in the mid-morning slot but in 31 years, I’ll be 80′.
No hard feelings: Vernon Kay, 49, has revealed how he often bumps into predecessor Ken Bruce, 72, on his way to work after taking over the DJ’s BBC Radio 2 show earlier this year (Vernon pictured in the Radio 2 studio)
New job: Ken jumped ship to join commercial rival Greatest Hits Radio in March (pictured) after hosting the same BBC slot since 1986 – with Vernon announced as his replacement two months later
‘There’s no way I’ll be sat at this desk! It’s a precious slot that needs the utmost respect. It’s not about me or Ken, it’s about the listener’.
Radio Industry body Rajar have reported how Vernon has lost 1.3M listeners since taking over the mid-morning show, with an average of 6.9M tuning in. With figures spanning June to September 2023.
Meanwhile in the same period over at Greatest Hits, Ken has increased the audience of his new show by 800K to 3.7M.
Previously he said he had left the BBC after three decades in the same slot because it was ‘time for a change’ and it felt ‘like the natural culmination of some planning I’ve been doing’.
But now Ken has revealed he decided to jump ship before he started to become ‘bitter and entrenched’, saying: ‘It was a long time and I thought I’m doing the same thing every day.
‘There was a point of saying that I can’t enthuse over all the new music I’m having to play as much as I could over the old music. And I didn’t want to get to the stage where I was badmouthing some of the music [or] pretending to like it.’
The father of six elaborated: ‘I certainly did think I’ve got a bit more to offer. I didn’t want to be declining over the next three or four years and still doing the same show, but everybody around me getting younger and thinking, “Am I the old bloke in the corner here?”
‘I was the youngster on the station and then almost overnight I became the veteran, and I didn’t want to become the old grump in the corner saying “things aren’t what they used to be”, or [to] any new idea say, “No, we tried that, didn’t work”, which does happen. I just felt I would get more bitter and entrenched.’
Chat: The former Family Fortunes host proved there was no hard feelings between the pair and said they regularly enjoy a catch up on the journey
Rocky waters: Radio Industry body Rajar have reported how Vernon has lost 1.3M listeners since taking over Ken’s mid-morning show, with an average of 6.9M tuning in. With figures spanning June to September 2023 (Ken Bruce pictured)
Bruce said the switch to Greatest Hits Radio had given him a new lease of life, insisting: ‘I do feel that it’s rejuvenated me to a certain extent. I loved working for the BBC. I think it’s a great institution. But maybe for the last couple of years I can’t be blamed for just trying something else.’
Speaking on Gyles Brandreth’s podcast series Rosebud, Ken said he never sees himself retiring and intends to continue broadcasting until he is physically unable or is sacked.
Hot off the press: Read Vernon’s full interview in Radio Times out now
His departure from the BBC ended on a slightly sour note after he was asked to leave before the end of his contract, reportedly because bosses feared he was using his time on air as ‘free advertising’ for his new rival show.
He said he found the decision ‘disappointing’, adding: ‘I thought, “Come on, you can trust me, I’m not going to do a Dave Lee Travis [and] start badmouthing everybody”, because I had a lovely time at the BBC. So it was all a bit… unnecessary. It’s entirely within the BBC’s right to ask me to step away a little early. But for the sake of 17 days, it seems a shame.’
Travis quit Radio 1 while on air in 1993, making critical comments about changes to the station.
But Bruce harbours no lasting ill feelings towards his old employer, calling the BBC ‘the finest broadcasting organisation in the world’.
His programme on Greatest Hits Radio, owned by media giant Bauer, runs from 10am to 1pm on weekdays and includes the PopMaster quiz he created for his Radio 2 show. It was also recently adapted for TV by Channel 4.