Chris Evans paid an emotional tribute to his wife as he broadcast his final BBC Radio 2 show.
The DJ, who has hosted breakfast for nine years, said: “I’d like to thank my wife Natasha, my gravity, my compass, my guiding light.
“I crave the uncertainty, but you can only do that against a backdrop of certainty and security.”
He added it was a “sad day”, but also “an exciting day for everyone” as he prepared to move to Virgin Radio.
“Thank you to the BBC for supporting me and entrusting me with one of their precious microphones for the last 13 years, for allowing me to grow for every minute of every day I’ve been on the air,” he said.
Through tears, he thanked a number of people, including his agent Michael and his station bosses past and present – Lesley Douglas, Bob Shennan and Lewis Carnie.
Zoe Ball will take over from Evans in January, becoming the first woman to host the coveted Radio 2 breakfast slot.
It’s one of several schedule changes on the station, with Sara Cox set to take over Drivetime from Simon Mayo, Jo Whiley moving back to evenings and a new late night show for Trevor Nelson.
As he opened the show on Monday morning, Evans told his listeners not to “shed too many tears” during his final programme.
Evans, who has spent 13 years with Radio 2, said: “To read a book, you have to keep turning the pages, but to write a book in the first place you have to do exactly the same.
“The sight of a blank page strikes the fear of god into some, but for others there’s nothing more exciting.
“So with your blessing, that’s precisely what I’m going to do.”
On Twitter, fellow broadcasters paid tribute to Evans – including Ball, BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker and Reverend Kate Bottley, the former Gogglebox star who presented on the Pause For Thought segment of Evans’s show.
There were several memorable moments on his final breakfast show, with listeners getting in touch to tell the DJ how many life milestones they had achieved throughout his years as host.
This included George, who – aged seven – voiced the “How Do You Like Your Eggs In The Morning?” jingle that often features on the show.
George, now aged 15, called in live to the show recreate the “I like mine with a kiss” line (now with a much deeper voice).
Nicole Kidman also phoned in from Australia to say she was “so sad” that Chris was leaving Radio 2.
Evans was full of praise for his production staff over the years, and said his team had created a book of their favourite moments from his tenure.
Looking through the book, he highlighted “Glastonbury in the mud, the time we recorded from my house, the Pudsey cup, the Globe Theatre, the anniversary of the Normandy landings, Prince Harry, then the big anniversary of the Dambusters at Biggin Hill.”
Evans’s wife – Natasha Shishmanian – also became emotional when he asked her to read out a message he had written from the perspective of their children.
She said: “Today’s gobsmackers are chosen by Noah and Eli Evans for their mum Tash.”
She began to cry, adding: “Oh, for goodness sake.
“They say that while everybody is talking about our dad we wanted to pick two songs for mum. One is because she loves nothing more than to dance in the sunshine with a grapefruit G and T, laughing uncontrollably with the people she loves. The other is her mascara moment.”
Evans then went on to play the two songs dedicated to her – Michael Jackson’s Love Never Felt So Good [the mascara moment song] and America by Razorlight.
As he left Radio 2 after the show, the DJ told the media: “I feel sad and very happy and very excited. It’s really strange.”
Radio 2’s breakfast show is Europe’s most popular radio programme, although Evans’ ratings fell to a six-year low of 8.9 million this summer.
The presenter took over from Terry Wogan in 2010 and took listener figures to almost 10 million at their peak.
Speaking on BBC One’s The One Show last week, he said he was “excited” about his move, but admitted it was “a shame” to be doing his last show at Radio 2.
He said he started thinking about leaving after somebody pointed out how long he had been at the station.
“It is a shame, but Zoe is going to be on in January. Zoe’s brilliant and I took over from Terry,” he said.
“Terry was amazing, nobody could do that show like him so we had to do it a different way and Zoe can continue that.
“You’re a steward of a show like this. The show isn’t yours, you’re the stewards of it and somebody else will come along, and I think that’s a lovely thing.”
It’s not the end of his relationship with the BBC, though, because he also revealed he has said yes to taking part in Strictly Come Dancing next year.
Rick Astley will perform live in the studio for his last Radio 2 show on Monday. George Ezra, Richard Ashcroft, Stacey Dooley, Olly Murs and Paloma Faith were among his guests for his last full week.
Evans will host the Virgin breakfast show from 21 January.
His new programme is being billed as the first commercial radio breakfast show without conventional advert breaks. Instead, it will be sponsored by Sky, and Evans will promote Sky’s programmes during his slot.
Evans was paid £1.66m for hosting the Radio 2 breakfast show in 2017-18, and there have been reports that he will pocket £2m a year from Virgin. But he has denied his move was about the money.
In September, BBC director general Tony Hall said the publication of star salaries was a factor in Evans and former Radio 4 presenter Eddie Mair choosing to leave the corporation.