Paul O’Grady has thanked his listeners for tuning in and getting involved over the years, saying it “wouldn’t have been the same without you” as he signed off from his final BBC Radio 2 show.
O’Grady, 67, has hosted the Sunday afternoon programme for nearly 14 years, before a schedule shake-up saw him regularly swapping with comic Rob Beckett.
Ahead of his last show, O’Grady said he had decided to leave the programme as he “wasn’t really happy” with the new arrangement.
Speaking to his producer, Malcolm Prince, as he ended his final show on Sunday, he said: “This is the last Sunday Paul O’Grady show here on Radio 2 ever.
“It’s hard to say this, Malcolm, because it’s been almost 14 years hasn’t it.
“Do you know this is one of the longest jobs I’ve ever held down. I only 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 great 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, adding: “I really appreciate it because, let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been the same without you, would it?”
He also gave a special mention to his producer, who returned the gesture on behalf of his “loyal listeners”.
After playing his last song, Friends by Bette Midler, he added: “From all of us here, from me and from Malcolm and everybody, thank you for tuning in these past 546 programmes. So you look after yourselves, stay safe and well. Ta-ra everyone.”
His last show included many of his popular segments, including providing the recipe for a Hawaiian-style cocktail and paying tribute to listeners’ pets who have recently died.
O’Grady also hosted a special edition of his Thank You Letter Of The Week for his listeners.
As part of a segment where he plays three songs from one artist, he dedicated the track I’m Alive by Celine Dion to Malcolm Prince.
He said Prince is leaving the BBC after 24 years of making programmes for the broadcaster.
Also among his playlist was Kylie Minogue’s hit All The Lovers, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer’s No More Tears and Dion’s At Seventeen.
O’Grady launched his weekly show in the Sunday time slot in 2009.
On Sunday he said in an Instagram post that he had decided to leave the programme as he “wasn’t really happy” with the schedule shake-up.
After the change at the station, O’Grady and Beckett had been hosting their shows alternately, each for 13 weeks at a time.
He said: “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.
“Thanks very much and good luck to everyone on Radio 2 and long may it continue.”
O’Grady is the latest established presenter to leave the station, after Steve Wright, also 67, was replaced by Scott Mills, 48, after 24 years on the network.
Vanessa Feltz, 60, is also stepping back from her shows on Radio 2 and BBC Radio London after almost 20 years at the helm.
The BBC confirmed Beckett will return for at least another 13 weeks of shows from August 21.