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Vernon Kay and Jamie Oliver express sadness after death of BBC Radio star Steve Wright

The Steve Wright in the Afternoon presenter died on Monday

Steve Wright in sunglasses and white jumper
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
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Steve Wright, the BBC DJ credited with introducing the 'zoo format' to British radio, which focuses on the craziness of its presenters, has died at the age of 69.

The presenter died on Monday, with a statement from the family reading: "It is with deep sorrow and profound regret that we announce the passing of our beloved Steve Wright. In addition to his son, Tom, and daughter, Lucy, Steve leaves behind his brother, Laurence and his father Richard.

"Also, much-loved close friends and colleagues, and millions of devoted radio listeners who had the good fortune and great pleasure of allowing Steve into their daily lives as one of the UK's most enduring and popular radio personalities. As we all grieve, the family requests privacy at this immensely difficult time."

Steve Wright presenting on radio© Carol Norman/Shutterstock
Steve started his career in 1980

Steve first started at the BBC in 1980, and began fronting his show, Steve Wright in the Afternoon in 1981, with the show running up until 1993. The popular show was rebooted in 1999, and he continued presenting it up until 2022, where he closed out his final show with Radio Ga Ga.

This wasn't the end of Steve's radio career and at the time of his death, he was the face of Pick of the Pops.

Celebrity tributes have poured in for the veteran presenter, with Tony Blackburn taking to X, formerly Twitter, to write: "I am so sad that my dear friend Steve Wright has passed away. He was a great broadcaster and we just loved one another’s company. I was shocked at the news and will miss him terribly."

Radio 2 presenter Vernon Kay posted: "Words, alone, do not feel enough, to attempt to describe the respect I had, for this man; this titan of radio and someone I was so proud to call a friend.

Thank you Steve, for the decades of joy you brought to the airwaves, entertaining us all with your wit, warmth and that most wonderful of voices. On a personal level I’ll never forget your kindness for mentoring me in my early years of radio broadcasting, for the hours we spent chatting and laughing on the phone. You always so generously imparted your wisdom and advice. The word 'legend' was truly made for you Steve. You will be so missed by everyone. Rest in peace, my friend."

Steve Wright in a striped shirt© John England/Shutterstock
The presenter was credited with introducing the 'zoo format'

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver expressed: "Very sad to hear of BBC Radio's dear Steve Wright passing away today, he was incredibly supportive and kind to me over the 25 years I’ve gone on his radio show….he was always positive, always welcoming and always there! A very important part of the nation's radio furniture a true professional…. Thank you Steve you and your radio presence will be so very missed. It won't be the same without you doing you magic…my thoughts go out to all his family and friends, big love, Jamie." 

The BBC's director-general, Tim Davie, said: "All of us at the BBC are heartbroken to hear this terribly sad news. Steve was a truly wonderful broadcaster who has been a huge part of so many of our lives over many decades.

"He was the ultimate professional – passionate about the craft of radio and deeply in touch with his listeners. This was deservedly recognised in the New Year Honours list with his MBE for services to radio. No-one had more energy to deliver shows that put a smile on audiences' faces. They loved him deeply. We are thinking of Steve and his family and will miss him terribly."

Headshot of Steve Wright© Chris Jackson
Tributes flooded in for the star

Comedian David Baddiel added: "Sad to hear about Steve Wright - his Radio 2 show was always fun to be on, and he was brilliant at what he did," while Piers Morgan penned: "RIP Steve Wright, 69. One of Britain's greatest ever radio broadcasters. A brilliantly creative, funny, warm, intelligent, hard-working & energetic man. Absolutely loved him, on and off air. So sad to hear this news. Thanks for all the wonderful entertainment, Steve."

BBC star Richard Osman said: "As a teenager the job I wanted most in the world was to be part of Steve Wright's posse. He made radio seem so joyous. What terribly sad news, and what a brilliant broadcaster he was," while veteran radio presenter Ken Bruce commented: "Totally shocked to hear the news about the great Steve Wright. We were planning lunch to celebrate the award of his richly deserved MBE. An outstanding and innovative broadcaster whose listeners loved him. What a loss to the world of radio."

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In a glowing tribute, Scott Mills, whose show replaced Steve's in 2022, shared: "Steve Wright is one of our greatest ever broadcasters. He made everything sound effortless, and worked so hard to make every show world class. He was a constant inspiration to me on how to do radio that sounded big. When I first started doing shows at Radio 2, he and I spent hours reminiscing about his days at Radio 1, and I would listen to his stories and wisdom in awe. My thoughts are with his family and my colleagues who have worked with him for so many years. Steve, you’re the best to ever do it."

Steve leaves behind two children Tom and Lucy.