Vernon Kay’s career is back on the up this week after the 48-year-old was reportedly handed his own show on BBC Radio 2 – replacing the much-loved Ken Bruce and his coveted morning slot.
The former Family Fortunes star landed the gig after substituting for Radio 2 hosts Scott Mills and Zoe Ball, and proving hugely popular among listeners, the BBC reports.
It is a lucrative signing for Kay, who has often worked in the shadow of his wife Tess Daly. She has been the host of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing for almost 20 years – and just weeks ago signed a new six-figure deal to continue presenting the prime time show.
But Kay, the son of a lorry driver, who stands at a towering 6ft4, has come a long way since starting his career as a wood cutter in his cousin’s DIY shop in Bolton.
He got his break thanks to a drunken afternoon at The Clothes Show roadshow, where he was scouted by a modelling agent.
Vernon Kay’s career is back on the up this week after the 48-year-old was handed his own show on BBC Radio 2 – replacing the much-loved Ken Bruce and his prestigious morning slot (Pictured: Kay with wife Tess Daly)
Kay had hosted a string of game shows, including HeadJam, Celebrities Under Pressure and Boys And Girls, before landing his biggest gig as the host of All Star Family Fortunes in 2006
Speaking on a podcast in 2020, Kay, a lifelong Bolton Wanderers fan, recalled: ‘He went ”You’ve got a quirky look, do you fancy giving it a go?” I was like ”nah that’s not for me mate”.
‘We’d had a couple of beers and my mate Adam said, ”if you go on this catwalk thing, I’ll get the beers for the rest of the afternoon”.
‘I said ”yeah alright I’ll do it”, cos I didn’t have a pot to p*** in.’
The move certainly paid off as Kay went on to model for years before making the transition into TV – and amassing an estimated fortune of £2million along the way.
His first big presenting role was on the popular weekend Channel 4 show T4, aimed at teenagers and young people.
Kay was a co-presenter on the series for five years between 2000 and 2005, working with the likes of June Sarpong and Simon Amstell.
It was during this period that he met and married presenter and model Tess Daly, in 2003. A year later she began hosting Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One, a lucrative job she still holds today.
The pair morphed into somewhat of a power couple as they became among the most recognisable faces of Saturday night TV.
Kay had hosted a string of game shows, including HeadJam, Celebrities Under Pressure and Boys And Girls, before landing his biggest gig as the host of All Star Family Fortunes in 2006.
Kay’s first big presenting role was on the popular weekend Channel 4 show T4, aimed at teenagers and young people. Kay was a co-presenter on the series for five years between 2000 and 2005, working with the likes of June Sarpong (pictured together) and Simon Amstell
Left to right: Vernon Kay, Tom Daley and Gabby Logan on the set of diving gameshow Splash!
Kay would host the gameshow for 12 series, making him a fixture of Saturday night entertainment, before finally leaving the show in 2015 and later being replaced by Gino D’Acampo.
He enjoyed hosting other gameshows on ITV, including Splash! with diving star Tom Daley, which ran for two series between 2013 and 2014.
But his career has not been without controversy. In 2010 Kay was caught sexting glamour model Rhian Sugden.
The TV star pursued Rhian on Twitter, text and email for four months, with the blonde later claiming he also tried to set up a secret liaison with her in a hotel room.
Afterwards, she assured Tess that they never met up alone and it was nothing more than a ‘close friendship and flirty messages’.
Rhian concluded with offering her ‘sincerest apologies’ and wishing the both of them happiness for the future.
Kay was famously forced to make a public apology to Tess on BBC Radio 1 back in 2010 after the saucy messages came to light.
In 2010 Kay was caught sexting glamour model Rhian Sugden (pictured). The TV star pursued Rhian on Twitter, text and email for four months, with the blonde later claiming he also tried to set up a secret liaison with her in a hotel room
Vernon Kay and Dan Osborne on diving gameshow Splash! back in 2014
He told his listeners: ‘Tess is extremely upset about this and we’re working through it.
‘But in some ways I’m glad this story has come out. It feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
‘I knew it was getting silly. I’m never going to do it again and hopefully I can clear the slate clean and start again.
‘I’m so sorry. I’ve been an idiot and I’ve let my family down.’
He went on to promise live on air that he would no longer contact Rhian or the four other women he had been caught messaging at the time.
It was then revealed the pair had got back in touch in 2015 with Vernon sending hundreds of texts asking to ‘reconnect’ with the model.
Kay then took to Facebook to explain, saying: ‘I was contacted by Rhian out of the blue back in December regarding the story in 2010 claiming she had information she wanted to pass on.
‘I recognise how it may look when messages are pulled out of context but there was never any inappropriate intent to our communication, I was merely trying to find answers to questions that I’ve had since 2010.
‘Tess is aware of everything that has been discussed with Rhian.’
Tess stayed by Kay’s side and they have now been married for almost 20 years.
After work opportunities dried up during the Covid pandemic, Kay decided to appear on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here (pictured)
Kay (pictured far right) featured on the 2020 Covid restricted series of the ITV show at Gwrych Castle in North Wales, and was a hit with viewers, finishing in third place
They live together in their family home in London with their two daughters Phoebe, 17 and Amber, 13.
After work opportunities dried up during the Covid pandemic, Kay decided to appear on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.
He featured on the 2020 Covid restricted series of the ITV show at Gwrych Castle in North Wales, and was a hit with viewers, finishing in third place.
He is now tipped to return to the radio waves as a replacement for Ken Bruce on Radio 2.
Kay had his own show on BBC Radio 1 from 2004 to 2012 and on Radio X from 2015 to 2017.
While Kay is a favourite among listeners, keen fans of Bruce’s show have lamented the loss of their much-loved host, while Radio 2 has hemorrhaged 580,000 listeners in the last year after axing older stars such as Steve Wright and Paul O’Grady, as well as Bruce in an ongoing ‘ageism’ controversy.
Bruce’s slot has been hailed as the ‘biggest, most coveted’ job in radio.
The veteran DJ, 72, will step down from his programme in just over a month before moving over to rival Greatest Hits radio, with Kay signing a two-year deal to take his place.
A source said: ‘Ken’s show is the most listened to in Europe so Vernon has massive shoes to fill. But he’s such a warm, easy presenter and listeners have really taken to him.
‘Vernon has a raft of fresh, new ideas and content, but will not be trying to reinvent the wheel here – he knows how important this show is to listeners, and wants them to feel welcome and safe.
‘Everyone at the Beeb is hugely excited to have him on board.’
A formal announcement is expected to be made in the coming days, while contracts are understood to have been signed last week.
Kay will host his first show on April 3.