Kirsty Young is stepping down permanently as host of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, saying: “It’s time to pursue new challenges.”
The broadcaster made her debut as presenter of the long-running programme, a staple of BBC radio, in 2006.
Last summer she announced she would be stepping away from the show, which has been hosted in her absence by Lauren Laverne, for a “number of months” as she is suffering from a form of fibromyalgia.
But BBC Radio 4 said in a statement that Young has now decided to step down permanently.
Young said: “After 12 incredibly happy and fulfilling years on Desert Island Discs I’ve decided to step down permanently.
“Having been forced to take some months away from my favourite job because of health problems, I’m happy to say I’m now well on the way to feeling much better.
“But that enforced absence from the show has altered my perspective on what I should do next and so I’ve decided it’s time to pursue new challenges.
“Having hundreds of Castaways share their triumphs, tragedies, tribulations and tracks with me over the years was a huge privilege and an education. I am so thankful to Roy Plomley for the brilliance of his format, and I wish the programme and Lauren all the very best.”
Young has presented 496 episodes of the programme as well as fronting its 70th and 75th anniversary celebrations.
Her Castaways have included Zadie Smith, David Beckham, Bruce Springsteen, Victoria Wood, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Judi Dench, George Michael, Alice Walker, Tom Hanks, Second World War pilot Eric Winkle Brown and Sir David Attenborough.
BBC director of radio and education James Purnell said: “Kirsty has been a wonderful host of Desert Island Discs for more than a decade and her intuitive interviewing style as well as her warmth and humour has helped bring out incredible life stories and anecdotes from her castaways. We know how loved she is by listeners and we all wish her well for the future.
“Lauren Laverne has been doing a brilliant job at the helm in Kirsty’s absence and I’m delighted she continues to host one of Radio 4’s most popular shows.”
Laverne will continue to host Desert Island Discs for the foreseeable future.
She said: “Stepping in for Kirsty on Desert Island Discs (which was already my favourite programme) has been an enormous honour. I wish her the very best in her next chapter.”