Graham Norton left the BBC for Virgin Radio after being persuaded to follow Chris Evans on a contract worth up to £ 1million.
The presenter announced last week that he was leaving his Radio 2 show on Saturday after a decade, but was shy about the reasons.
His motives became evident when he was unveiled as the signature star of Virgin, where he will host a weekend show on Saturdays and Sundays.
The commercial station has deep pockets, as the BBC urges restraint on wages and has publicly welcomed offers by Gary Lineker and Zoe Ball to cut wages significantly.
Norton said: “I am excited and a little surprised to join Virgin Radio UK in 2021. I was very happy with where I was, but the opportunity to host shows throughout the weekend looked too good to miss.
“Plus, the energy and enthusiasm of Virgin Radio is contagious and I can’t wait to get started. Did I mention that the studios are very close to where I live? “
Norton earned £ 730,000 on the BBC last year, the majority covering his salary at Radio 2. His multi-million pound income from the Graham Norton Show on BBC One is private and is not included in this figure.
When Norton appeared as a guest on the Evans show in September, Evans publicly courted him with the offer of a job at the station.
He told Norton the executives were keen to strike a deal, saying, “There are other people who want to talk to you in other parts of the building. And by the way, I’m not kidding.
Evans joked that it would be “a much better commute” for Norton, who lives in Wapping, near the Virgin Radio studios. Afterward, he told listeners that the offer had piqued Norton’s interest, saying, “I think we’ve scratched the itch.”
During this appearance, Norton admitted that he was also tempted to outsource his TV talk show to a business rival for more money, but ultimately decided against it.
He said, “You have times when people [from rival broadcasters] talk to you and you can make a choice: “I could leave this place and go somewhere else”. And we thought about it very seriously, not that long ago, but at the end of the day, it’s a BBC show.