Actor and musician Hugh Laurie is turning DJ to host a blues show for BBC's Radio 2.
The British star – who became the highest paid actor on US TV for his role in House – will host a six-part series looking at the history and influence of the music genre.
It is part of a schedule shake-up which will also see a weekly show by presenter Steve Lamacq dropped just days after he was honoured by the music industry for his tireless championing of indie music for two decades.
The station is also dropping two stand-alone big band shows as a result of cost-cutting. However it will continue to feature on the airwaves in an expanded weekly edition of Clare Teal’s show which will be broadcast live for two hours each Sunday at 10pm.
Lewis Carnie, Radio 2’s head of programmes, said: “I wanted to expand our big band programming but, with reduced funds across the BBC, we could no longer afford to commit to regular big band recordings.
“However, we are aware that our listeners love this kind of music, so we are giving our Sunday night audience an extended two hour session of the tunes they love from the broadest range of Big Band music.”
Hugh Laurie’s Blues Changes will be the actor’s first series for Radio 2 and comes in the wake of his album chart success after launching his own blues career with debut album Let Them Talk two years ago.
During his show he will also be performing with his Copper Bottom Band as a starting point to his blues choices each week.
Lamacq’s series Rock College is being dropped to make way for the other changes but the station said he would return to the station next year for a celebration of Britpop and will continue to broadcast on sister station Radio 6 Music.
The station will also be launching a new series Sounds Of The 80s to be hosted by former Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Sara Cox, who has been a regular stand-in on Radio 2 over the past 18 months.
She said: “I’m completely over the moon to be hosting an 80s shindig every Saturday night.”
Controller of Radio 2 Bob Shennan said: “The show will perfectly complement two of the network’s best loved programmes, Sounds of the 60s, presented by Brian Matthew, and Sounds of the 70s, hosted by Johnnie Walker.”
Other changes include a move for Russell Davies’s show from Sunday at 9pm to Monday at 11pm. He will take the slot for 26 weeks a year, with Jools Holland filling the other half-year. Nigel Ogden’s The Organist Entertains will move from Tuesday at 9.30pm to Thursday 11pm, and followed by Listen To The Band which has previously been at 9.30pm on a Wednesday.
Shennan added: “Although we have had to make difficult decisions in order to make savings in line with the rest of the BBC, I’ve taken this opportunity to create some new programmes and make changes to reinvigorate the Radio 2 schedule.”