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Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 16:59 GMT


Baker berths at Virgin

That's what friends are for: Baker, Evans and Paul Gascoigne on the town

Sacked broadcaster Danny Baker is returning to Britain's airwaves - courtesy of his friend Chris Evans' Virgin Radio.

Baker was fired from Talk Radio last month in a row over a new Saturday morning show.

But now he will fill a Sunday morning slot on Virgin, which is owned by Evans' Ginger Media Group. He replaces Jonathan Ross, who left the station to pursue other projects, such as his new job presenting the BBC One's Film 99 show.

Baker already works as a writer and consultant for his TFI Friday show on Channel 4.

But even then, Evans wanted to give him a little bit of encouragement in signing his new contract - and urged listeners to his breakfast show to phone Baker's agent Alex Armitage.

[ image: Kelvin MacKenzie: His consortium recently bought Talk Radio]
Kelvin MacKenzie: His consortium recently bought Talk Radio
"Danny Baker is on the air from now, every Sunday morning. His contract has not been signed yet, we're still in negotiations to with his agent. Say to Alex, 'Just sign the deal.'

"Danny can have as much money as he likes, as long as it comes out of the TFI money he already gets."

Armitage said: "It is going to be a great show. I wondered why we were getting some strange calls today. It's nice to be famous."

Baker was fired by Talk Radio, recently bought by a consortium including former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, for not featuring enough football on his show. He wanted to play more music, and said of his sacking: "I couldn't be more pleased."

His arrival at Virgin Radio comes as the station saw its audience figures fall by 130,000 in the quarterly Rajar survey, issued on Thursday.

Although Evans' breakfast show gained listeners, his BBC Radio 1 rival Zoe Ball stretched her lead by 200,000.

Earlier this week, Virgin and Talk joined forces to bid for regional digital radio licences, which will be offered from the summer.

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