BBC Radio 2 has lost over one million listeners since Vernon Kay stepped in as the new host.

Working to regain the dropping fan base, Kay, who controversially replaced Ken Bruce in March 2023 after the former DJ left BBC Radio, is due to top up his BBC salary with a three-week performance in the pantomime 'Aladdin'. 

Kay, from Beaconsfield, will take to the stage at the Wycombe Swan in High Wycombe from December 13 – January 5, a lining up that could well irk some regular listeners of BBC radio.

Kay is among a growing array of presenters now taking on better-paying roles outside of their BBC-funded duties.

Still, his commitment to Radio 2 remains, with the 50-year-old expected to front his normal mid-morning slot, which runs from 9.30am-12pm, following which he's slated to hasten to Buckinghamshire to perform on stage.

However, the post-Bruce era has seen the BBC network witness a massive listener decline, losing 1.23 million listeners in the January-March period, according to recent radio industry figures.

Kay's slot alone has recorded a drop of 30,000 listeners in the last quarter, pulling in 1.5m fewer listeners than Bruce did on the same show.

In a press release for the pantomime, Kay said: "The Master of the Dad Joke is back!

"I’m so excited to be returning to the Wycombe Swan, my local theatre, in Aladdin this year.

"It's a fantastic story, an absolute classic.

"I can’t wait to get back on the stage for all the panto madness.

"Expect a whole lot of high paced, high tempo, full of energy and blink and you miss it action.

"I’ll see you there!"

Kay's participation in the theatre's Cinderella rendition last year fetched him the Best Newcomer honour at the yearly UK Pantomime Awards.

The recognition, and seemingly his enjoyment, has supposedly led fellow Radio 2 DJ Scott Mills, who replaced Steve Wright, to also partake in panto performances.

Mills appeared in Jack and the Beanstalk at Leicester De Montfort Hall in 2023, as Kay told him it’s 'just the greatest fun.'

Several renowned BBC stars, including Bradley Walsh and Craig Revel-Horwood, are known to make regular pantomime appearances during the festive season, adding six-figure sums to their BBC salaries.

Meanwhile, Bruce, who felt unappreciated by BBC bosses and made a premature exit from the network, is now part of Greatest Hits, which is seeing a steady rise in listeners since his arrival.

BBC and Kay's representatives refrained from making any comments on the matter.