John Humphrys has said he fears life after the Today programme but feels he “should have gone years ago”.
The veteran BBC broadcaster has worked on the Radio 4 current affairs show for 32 years and despite his love for Today believes he should have quit earlier in his career.
Humphrys, 75, said the show has dominated his life and his obsession with the news left little room for other ambitions.
In an interview on Radio 4’s The World At One, the presenter admitted being apprehensive about leaving behind such an important part of his life.
Speaking to his former Today colleague Sarah Montague, he said: “I love doing the programme, I have always enjoyed it, always loved it. And I still [do], that’s the problem.
“I should have gone years ago, obviously I should have gone years ago, but I love doing the programme.
“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.”
Despite feeling he needed to leave to regain some of his time from the obsession with current affairs and rigorous programming schedule, he added that he fears what will come next.
He said: “I worry about missing the programme, and I do now. I genuinely worry about what it is going to be like not doing the Today programme – 32 years is very long time.”
Humphrys will end his time on the Today programme, but will continue with other BBC work, and remain on Mastermind.
He said it was a “huge privilege” to have a bond with millions of listeners during his long service on Today.
Fran Unsworth, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, said: “For more than 30 years John Humphrys has been a stalwart of Today. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that anyone who’s played a key role in the political events of the last three decades has been interviewed by John.
“But most importantly, he has always been a champion of his listeners, holding the powerful to account on their behalf.
“John will be sorely missed by audiences and his colleagues when he leaves the programme this year – if perhaps less so by the politicians he interviews.”
Humphrys agreed to take a pay cut following the publications of BBC stars’ pay which showed him to be earning between 600,000 and £649,999 in 2016/17.
News that the forceful interviewer would be quitting Today was welcomed by some online, as Twitter users voiced criticism of perceived bias.
Speaking on The World At One, Humphrys said he was indifferent to his critics, and has not paid attention to online reaction to his decision to leave Today.
He said: “The honest answer is I really couldn’t care less. Some people are going to like me, some people are not going to like me. If it’s marginally in my favour, that would be nice.
“I’m not sure I would like me if I was listening to me for heaven’s sake.
“There’s no law that says you have to be liked in this business, so long as you do your job competently.”
He is set to step aside in the autumn.