JOHN Humphrys will leave Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday after 32 years at its helm.
The veteran Welsh broadcaster has had his share of controversial moments in the spotlight. So who will be his replacement?
John Humphrys is leaving BBC’S Today programme after 32 years at the helm[/caption]
The respected journalist and TV host is best known for heading up BBC Radio 4’s Today show and Mastermind.
When is John Humphrys retiring from Radio 4?
Humphrys is set to depart Radio 4’s Today programme, after more than three decades working at the corporation.
His final show will air Thursday September 19, from 6am and will end at 9am.
The veteran broadcaster announced his departure in early 2019, telling BBC Radio 4’s The World at One he should have left the show years ago but clung on for fear he would miss it.
His final interviewees are set to be former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair.
Ahead of his departure, Today editor Sarah Sands said: “Losing John in the mornings is a bit like Big Ben being silenced.
“I will miss his restlessness, his capacity for delight, his profound curiosity and his humanity.”
Humphrys has interrogated a number of politicians over the years and Sands joked that Mr Cameron will be no exception, hinting that Humphrys would grill the former PM about his decision to call the 2016 Brexit referendum.
She noted: “He doesn’t let go… He’s a terrier, so I think you should expect something exciting.”
Who will be Humphrys’ replacement?
Today will continue with four main presenters – Justin Webb, Mishal Husain, Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson – and will not directly replace Humphrys, the BBC has said.
The 76-year-old will continue to present Mastermind on BBC Two.
What was his role on BBC Radio 4’s Today show?
Humphrys has interviewed UK politicians including every Prime Minister from Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May, excluding Boris Johnson.
Speaking to former Today presenter Sarah Montague, John said: “As you know, when you do this programme it dominates your life, not just because you have to get up in the morning so many days a week, but all the time, you have to be obsessed – I think that is the right word – with what’s going on out there.
“You have to read everything and listen to everything and all the rest of it. There are so many things you think ‘oh I could have done this, I could have done that’ and I’m never going to do them if I stay on this programme.”
He has been Today’s longest-serving presenter.
What are his biggest controversies?
Gender pay gap
It emerged his deal of up to £650,000 was nearly two-and-a-half times that of female co-presenter Mishal Husain’s £250,000.
In January last year he famously agreed to take a pay cut along with five other high-earning men at the BBC.
That same month he was heard in an off-air recording joking about his high salary in a conversation about his colleague Carrie Gracie, who quite her role as BBC China editor in a dispute over unequal pay.
He said: “And I could save you the trouble because I could volunteer that I’ve handed over already more than you f***ing earn, but I’m still left with more than anybody else, and that seems to me to be entirely just. Something like that would do it, do you think?”
Margaret Thatcher interview
Humphrys said his first interview with prime minister Thatcher in 1987 was “a truly scary prospect”.
He famously asked about the link between her Christian faith and her politics, to which Thatcher responded: “How can you express unselfish love if you have no choice? The fundamental choice is the right to choose between good and evil.”
Humphrys was accused by cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken of “poisoning the well of democratic debate” in 1995.
Aitken claimed Humphrys interrupted Chancellor Kenneth Clarke 32 times.
When Clarke next appeared on Today, Humphrys gave him a calculator to count how many times he was interrupted.
Humphrys was again accused of interrupting another interviewee, social security secretary Harriet Harman about plans to reduce payments to single mothers in 1997.
The Labour Party then threatened to withdraw cooperation with the programme, saying Ms Harman was denied the chance to develop her answers.
In a 2003 interview with correspondent Andrew Gilligan, Gilligan said he had been told by a reliable source that a government dossier about the threat from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction had been deliberately “sexed up”.
A confrontation between the BBC and the government ensued and the source, Dr David Kelly, took his own life.
Gilligan, the BBC director general and the BBC chairman later resigned.
What is John Humphrys’ background?
Born in the Splott area of Cardiff on 17th August 1943, John, 76, grew up with four siblings and attended Cardiff High School, a grammar school, after passing his eleven plus.
At the age of 15 he began his journalism career, and worked as a reporter for local newspaper the Penarth Times, before joining Western Mail, which covers Wales and its border counties.
The first time he appeared on television was for Television Wales and the West.
In 1966 he joined the BBC, working as a reporter in Liverpool and its surrounding areas.
From there he rose up the ranks of the corporation to work as a foreign correspondent in locations such as the United States and South Africa.
Returning to the UK in 1980, he became head presenter on the BBC’s Nine O’Clock News in 1981, and in 1987 he began hosting BBC Radio 4’s Today show.
What has John Humphreys presented?
In addition to the Today show, John presented On the Record, a BBC political television show, from 1993 to 2002.
From 2003 he has hosted the popular quiz show Mastermind, and he has also presented occasional episodes of Panorama.
He courted controversy in 2004 when he criticised the increasing violence shown in soaps, and at the same time claimed that television was being dumbed down.
In 2009 he embarrassed the BBC by saying his large Mastermind pay check was “money for old rope”.
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Is John Humphreys married and does he have any children?
The radio regular has three children but is not currently married.
After marrying Edna Wilding in 1964, the couple had a son and a daughter, Christopher and Catherine. They separated in the 1980s, shortly before Edna passed away from cancer.
He then had a third child in 2000, son Owen, with his partner at the time, newsreader Valerie Sanderson.
Since then he has dated Observer columnist Catherine Bennett.