Chris Evans, the British celebrity radio DJ, will present his final show for BBC Radio 2 on Christmas Eve before moving to Virgin Radio, where a pioneering deal with Sky means the commercial station will broadcast his new show completely free of ads.

Wireless, the owner of Virgin Radio as well as about 30 commercial radio brands across the UK and Ireland, said in a statement that the partnership between Virgin Radio and Sky will allow listeners to have “the same uninterrupted audio experience” as listeners of Evans’s popular Radio 2 show.

In a partnership that it described as “ground-breaking”, Wireless explained that Sky’s sponsorship of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, which launches on January 21, will be used to create branded content, competitions and events for the programme.

“So much has changed in broadcasting since I was last at Virgin Radio that now, thanks to Sky, we can do the show without ad breaks,” Evans said in the statement.

He also told the BBC, where he has worked at Radio 2 for the last 13 years, that “so many people advertise everywhere. You turn your phone on and there’s an advert”.

“There are so many of them now that we sort of become anaesthetised to them, and so if you actually turn your commercial partner into a storyteller... we’re trying this thing, it’s never been done before, it’s quite ground-breaking.”

Roy Martin, managing editor of RadioToday, said of Virgin’s plans: “There have been many attempts by commercial radio to ditch the adverts for sponsor credits in the past, including entire radio stations, but nothing on this scale.

“It’s a gamble which will likely pay off for News UK [the parent company of Wireless], especially if BBC Radio 2 listeners, who aren’t used to advert breaks, follow him to Virgin.”

Listeners to the new show will judge whether Sky’s content sponsorship works out or not, but earlier this year WARC reported on the success Wickes, the home improvements chain, has found with its sponsorship of Absolute Radio’s Breakfast Show.

According to a presentation delivered to the annual Radiocentre conference, the company’s sponsorship raised brand awareness among two separate audiences and generated double digit ROI.

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Sourced from Wireless, BBC; additional content by WARC staff