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Today's Naughtie to leave show

Published 07/07/2015

James Naughtie will leave the Today team in January
James Naughtie will leave the Today team in January

Long-standing Today programme presenter James Naughtie is leaving the BBC show in January.

Jamie Angus, the editor of the early Radio 4 show, said it would be "strange to contemplate" the programme without him.

He said: " Usually arriving at around 4.00am in a burst of newspapers, weapons-grade gossip - possibly involving the previous evening spent at the theatre or the opera - and always a slew of ideas of how to take that morning's programme forward, Jim was always a Today night-editor's dream.

"Out of the office and on the road, Jim was in his element. Insatiably curious and always charming, Jim has a knack of grabbing interviews in a corridor or lift you never thought you'd ever get.

"And all of it anchored by his ability as a writer for radio, second to none, always able to conjure up for the audience a sense of place - a US convention, a party conference, moving into Kosovo in a Land Rover, all of it rendered vividly for a generation of Today listeners."

Naughtie, a former newspaper journalist, will work as a special correspondent for Radio 4 and as BBC News books editor when he leaves the show.

Naughtie's duties as books editor will see him return to Today every Saturday morning with a regular book review slot.

He first joined the show in 1994 following the death of Brian Redhead and has interviewed US presidents and every prime minister from Margaret Thatcher onwards.

He hit the headlines five years ago when he made an embarrassing verbal slip over the name of then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and accidentally replaced the first letter of his surname with a "C".

BBC director-general Tony Hall paid tribute to the broadcaster he said had been "the emotional heart" of the show.

He said: " Above all he's a writer and reporter at heart - he can bring to life a vivid scene on the radio better than anyone - and I'm delighted that on many of the biggest news stories of 2016 and beyond Jim will continue to be at the heart of our coverage."

Naughtie, who will cover the Holyrood elections in Scotland as well as presidential elections in France and the United States in his new role, said he was "thrilled" with the move.

He said: " It was exciting to discover that the BBC and I had the same idea about what I should do next. I'm thrilled to be moving from one dream job to another, and working with the programmes across Radio 4 - including Today - that I love and have known for so long. I can't think of a more invigorating challenge. And after 21 years, I can turn off that 3am alarm at last".

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