Michael Ball will continue Steve Wright's Love Songs show

Steve Wright BBC DJ seen in 2005
Wright joined the BBC in the 1970s and went on to host the afternoon shows on Radio 1 and Radio 2 [PA Media]

Radio 2's popular request show, Steve Wright's Love Songs, is to continue with a new host following the star's death, the BBC has confirmed.

Michael Ball will take the reins from June, and promised to continue Wright's "extraordinary legacy".

"I'm beyond excited and more than a little nervous," he added, noting that his predecessor had made the programme "'appointment to listen' radio".

Wright hosted the show from 1996 until the week before his death in February.

Originally called Sunday Love Songs, it features a blend of dedications from listeners, personal stories and classic love songs.

Wright's final episode was a pre-recorded Valentine's show, broadcast on 11 February, 2024.

Throughout the programme, the DJ exuded his usual friendly radio presence, cracking jokes between songs and singing over familiar tunes.

After two hours, the radio legend signed off by saying: "I'll be back for more love songs next Sunday. Ta-ra then."

'Radio genius'

The unexpected news of his death came from the broadcaster's family, just two days later.

The Metropolitan Police later confirmed the presenter had been found dead at home, adding that the death was not being treated as suspicious.

Tributes poured in for the star, with fellow DJs recalling him as a radio "genius" whose "heart soared when he was on air".

Mike Read, who co-hosted a local radio show with Wright before they moved to Radio 1, said his former colleague was a "ringmaster" and "good at pulling people in".

"He worked tirelessly, he was a radio man, not just somebody who turned up, did the show and went home. It was in his mind, always thinking of ideas".

Liza Tarbuck presented a special edition of Love Songs dedicated to the broadcaster the following Sunday, choking back tears as she read messages from his dedicated audience.

One listener recalled how she would dance with her husband, also called Steve, while listening to Wright's show.

"When me and Steve were dancing last Sunday in the kitchen to Love Songs, we would never of imagined that would be our last dance with the amazing Steve Wright. He was part of our family," she wrote.

'Share the love'

Michael Ball
Michael Ball has been a presenter on BBC Radio 2 since 2005 [BBC]

Ball said he wanted to continue that relationship with the listeners, saying the show would still feature "beautiful, moving, relaxing and uplifting music to lift the soul on a Sunday morning, coupled with the stories, suggestions, requests and precious memories from you, the listener".

The programme will be renamed Love Songs with Michael Ball - but the singer said he wanted to "ensure that this won't be just MY show, but OUR show".

"I hope you will join us as we continue to share the love." he continued.

The Phantom Of The Opera star has been a presence on Radio 2 since 2005, and will hand his current Sunday lunchtime slot to comedian and actor Paddy McGuinness.

A new presenter for Wright's other show, Pick Of The Pops, will be announced in due course.

Nicki Chapman has been standing in to present Sunday Love Songs for the last few weeks.

Mark Radcliffe says 'À bientôt'

Meanwhile, broadcaster Mark Radcliffe has announced an extended leave of absence from his shows on Radio 2 and 6 Music.

The presenter reassured fans that this was not connected to the cancer of the tongue and lymph nodes that affected him in 2018.

"Having been on the radio since the late industrial revolution I've decided to have a bit of time off," he said.

"I'm getting on a bit now, and there are some things I want to do whilst I'm still (relatively) fit and active. So I'll be taking April and May off, if that's alright with you lot.

"I am clear of cancer and feeling great, so please don't read anything sinister into it. I'm just going to do some stuff I want to do, and I'll be back in early June. Whether you want me or not! À bientôt."

In his absence, Stuart Maconie will present the Radcliffe and Maconie show on 6 Music by himself; while former 6 Music Breakfast Show host Shaun Keaveny will host Radio 2's Folk show.