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Steve Wright was ‘surprised’ he’d been axed by BBC bosses and the decision to scrap his beloved Radio 2 afternoon show had been a ‘bolt from the blue’, his friend reveals


Steve Wright was ‘surprised’ that he had been axed by BBC bosses and the decision to cancel his beloved Radio 2 afternoon show had been a ‘bolt from the blue’, a close friend has revealed.

The legendary radio presenter was tragically found dead at his home on Monday – four years after his ex-wife passed away during Covid which had made him become ‘extremely withdrawn’.

Mark Wells, the former controller of ITV entertainment, said being axed from his long-running BBC Radio 2 afternoon slot in 2022 had come as a big surprise which Wright struggled to comprehend.

In a wide-ranging interview, Wells also revealed how Wright had undergone heart surgery shortly after the show was axed – and that he was ‘more ill than he’d let on’.

Addressing the BBC’s decision to cancel Wright’s afternoon slot, Wells told Colin Edmonds’ Behind The Scenes podcast: ‘He was extremely surprised that it happened, it came like a bolt from the blue and that’s what he couldn’t understand. 

‘He felt that the show was still extremely popular, there had been no drop in the number of listeners that he was reaching.’ 

Wells said his friend couldn’t ‘rationalise’ the decision as the show ‘felt as good as ever’ and he ‘was just shocked at the way it was handled, which I think was brutal.’ 

The last picture of the legendary broadcaster shows him larking around and taking 'ironic selfies' with a friend in New York just weeks before his death

The last picture of the legendary broadcaster shows him larking around and taking ‘ironic selfies’ with a friend in New York just weeks before his death

Mark Wells (pictured), the former controller of ITV Entertainment, said that Wright was surprised that his afternoon show was axed

Mark Wells (pictured), the former controller of ITV Entertainment, said that Wright was surprised that his afternoon show was axed

Steve Wright was 'surprised' that he had been axed by BBC bosses and the decision to cancel his beloved Radio 2 afternoon show had been a 'bolt from the blue'

Steve Wright was ‘surprised’ that he had been axed by BBC bosses and the decision to cancel his beloved Radio 2 afternoon show had been a ‘bolt from the blue’

Despite being replaced by Scott Mills in 2022, Wright stayed loyal to the BBC and turned down a number of big money offers to go to a rival commercial station. 

He continued to host Sunday Love Songs and Pick of the Pops on the station and had been was ‘enjoying looking at the prospect of new podcasts that he was developing,’ said Wells. 

Wells, who had been friends with Wright since the 90s, also opened up about the DJ’s health battles.

‘Steve told me he had a heart operation about 14 or 15 months ago after he finished Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio 2,’ Wells continued.

‘He had a bypass operation which had gone well but I think he had been more ill than he had been letting on to that point. 

‘The recovery from that had gone pretty well though obviously the events of the last couple of days would suggest that’s what in the end came for him.’

Speaking about his friend’s lifestyle, he added: ‘He was always exceptionally preoccupied with his health. He never was healthy.

‘He never ate properly. Every meal I had with him was an unhealthy one. He didn’t drink much but he certainly used to smoke cigars.

‘And we would often walk around the block smoking cigars back in the day. I think in time that took its toll.’

Steve Wright (pictured) had secret heart surgery shortly after BBC bosses axed his Radio 2 afternoon show and was 'more ill than he'd been letting on', a friend has revealed

Steve Wright (pictured) had secret heart surgery shortly after BBC bosses axed his Radio 2 afternoon show and was ‘more ill than he’d been letting on’, a friend has revealed

Wright pictured with his ex-wife Cyndi Robinson before they jetted off for their honeymoon. The couple married in 1972 but divorced in 1999. Cyndi died in July 2020 aged 65

Wright pictured with his ex-wife Cyndi Robinson before they jetted off for their honeymoon. The couple married in 1972 but divorced in 1999. Cyndi died in July 2020 aged 65

The DJ’s younger brother Laurence Wright, 65, said that his unhealthy lifestyle including his penchant for always eating out, combined with his reluctance to talk about his own ‘health issues’, contributed to his death. 

Wells also claimed that the BBC had tried to lure Wright back to Radio 2 to return to his afternoon slot just days before his death. But the BBC categorically denied this was the case.

The TV executive said: ‘This is absolutely the truth, and the BBC will deny this.

‘But this is what Steve said to me last Friday [February 9]. He said you’ll never guess what happened this week. He said ‘I got a call from Radio 2, and they very quietly asked me how I would feel about going back to do afternoons.’

‘I said ‘Oh my God, what do you think of that?’

‘Well, he thought it was funny as well. And he said, ‘I don’t know whether you should ever go back in life though, do you?’

‘And then we talked about something else and moved on.’

A spokesman for the BBC explained that further shows on Radio 2 were never proposed.

They told MailOnline: ‘This isn’t right. We spoke to Steve alongside other presenters about our plans for the new Radio 2 DAB+ extension, which we announced last week, including simulcasting his Sunday Love Songs on the station and agreed to discuss further content ideas in due course. There was no mention of afternoons or Radio 2.’

It comes after it was claimed that Wright had become extremely withdrawn and stopped going out after his ex-wife died during Covid.

Locals living near the DJ’s £2million flat say he ‘completely shut down’ after the pandemic.

Neighbours told The Sun he stopped drinking in the area and believe the sudden death of his ex-wife Cyndi Robinson at the age of 65 in July 2020 had hit Wright hard. 

Steve Wright would smoke cigars and eat unhealthy meals, his close friend Mark Wells revealed

Steve Wright would smoke cigars and eat unhealthy meals, his close friend Mark Wells revealed

Loving father Steve is pictured holding a beaming Thomas during a family snap in July 1988

Loving father Steve is pictured holding a beaming Thomas during a family snap in July 1988

The DJ was married to Cyndi Robinson until they divorced in 1999. They are pictured on their wedding day

The DJ was married to Cyndi Robinson until they divorced in 1999. They are pictured on their wedding day 

The couple divorced ‘out of the blue’ in 1999 after 27 years of marriage in which they had two children together – Lucy and Tom.  

Wright’s son, Tom, had been living in Los Angeles but revealed he returned to the UK to care for his father before his death.

One neighbour said Wright stopped going out in recent years after the country came out of the Covid pandemic. 

‘He was a different person. even before his radio show ended,’ they said. ‘He was extremely withdrawn.’

It has been claimed Wright was in talks to host his own TV show, 18-months after being replaced on the radio by Scott Mills.

His friend of 40 years, publicist Gary Farrow, said he believes Wright ‘died from a broken heart’ after he was ‘devastated’ to lose his popular Radio 2 afternoon slot in 2022.

But Tom has now spoken out about his gratitude over getting the opportunity to bond with his father in his final days.

In a touching post on social media, the grieving son said: ‘It meant the world to me that I was able to get to know my Dad in a way I never had in the months before he died.

‘I will cherish every moment we shared and every memory we made.

‘I only hope to make him proud and build on his legacy with kindness and love.’

He added: ‘This made every struggle worthwhile to have had this time with him before we lost him.’

Just two days before his father passed away, Tom posted that he had returned to Britain to spend a week with him before he received his MBE awarded in the New Year Honours list.

He said he hopes to find comfort in recordings of his father’s radio broadcasts one day. 

Tom wrote about losing both of his parents: ‘Thank the Gods I’m sober, as this would have straight up killed me even a couple years ago after losing Mum over the pandemic in the same way without getting to see him before he passed after flying back to take care of the old blighter.’

Wright was found dead at his £2million flat on Monday morning after paramedics were called to an ‘incident’, MailOnline revealed.

Steve Wright, who died at the age of 69, pictured in his studio in 1994

Steve Wright, who died at the age of 69, pictured in his studio in 1994 

Wright being surprised in his studio by  Paul McCartney. Also pictured is his production assistant Dianne Oxberry

Wright being surprised in his studio by  Paul McCartney. Also pictured is his production assistant Dianne Oxberry

Emergency services rushed to the star’s home in Marylebone, central London, just after 10am on February 12, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

His ‘unexpected’ death is not being treated as suspicious with a report being prepared for the coroner, police said.

The radio personality presented programmes for BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 for more than four decades.

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We were called at 10.07am on Monday 12 February to reports of an incident.

‘We sent a number of resources to the scene. Very sadly, a person was pronounced dead at the scene.’

It comes as the last picture of the legendary broadcaster shows him larking around and taking ‘ironic selfies’ with a friend in New York just weeks before his death.

Wright’s heartbroken brother blamed the BBC star’s death on his poor diet and claimed that he concealed his health problems from his family, MailOnline revealed.

Laurence Wright, 65, also shut down claims that the Corporation’s decision to axe him from his long-running Radio 2 Afternoon Show contributed to his death, revealing the veteran star was ‘thankful’ for the rest.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Laurence said: ‘He was aware that he could have looked after himself better, in his lifestyle choices. Obviously we all wish he had.

‘It’s like anyone who doesn’t look after themselves over an extended period. The normal stuff – diet, nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress – he was a very stoic kind of guy as well so if he had something wrong with him and he had to go to have some treatment or go to the doctors, he wouldn’t talk about it.

The DJ with Alice Cooper at the Sony Radio Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel on May 12, 2004

The DJ with Alice Cooper at the Sony Radio Awards at Grosvenor House Hotel on May 12, 2004

George Michael pictured with BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright

George Michael pictured with BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright

DJ Steve Wright arrives for the Sony Radio Awards 2003

DJ Steve Wright arrives for the Sony Radio Awards 2003

Steve Wright pictured in 1980

Steve Wright pictured in 1980

Wright in a photo taken in 1995

Wright in a photo taken in 1995 

Laurence Wright (pictured), the brother of Steve Wright, blamed the DJ's death on his poor diet and claims he hid health problems from his family

Laurence Wright (pictured), the brother of Steve Wright, blamed the DJ’s death on his poor diet and claims he hid health problems from his family

‘He was the kind of guy who would just carry on, take care of it, not talk about it, not make a big thing, that kind of stoic sort of attitude.

‘That’s just how he was – that probably didn’t help really, because he wouldn’t have help or take advice necessarily.’

He said Wright didn’t feel he should have been sacked from his popular show – but needed a break. 

Laurence, a director of a company in the health industry, says his older brother’s tendency for eating out at restaurants combined with his reluctance to talk about various ‘health issues’, keeping his family in the dark, were the main factors behind his shock death.

On Wednesday morning BBC Radio 2 was ‘inundated’ with messages paying tribute to Wright in the first morning show since his death.

The channel was overwhelmed with calls from ‘devastated’ listeners who revealed how the ‘kind, funny, humble and loveable’ star put a smile on their faces each week.



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