Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Radio 4 star with no sense of smell to host Gardeners' Question Time

Kathy Clugston
Kathy Clugston
Kathy Clugston with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
Emily Maitlis

By Staff Reporter

A Belfast-born broadcaster has come up smelling of roses after being named the first female host of Gardeners' Question Time, even though she cannot detect any flower's scent.

Radio 4 newsreader Kathy Clugston - who has anosmia, meaning she has no sense of smell - joked that the move was "odd".

The 49-year-old is replacing Eric Robson (72), who is retiring from the BBC programme, which first aired in 1947.

Clugston is known for her work as a newsreader and announcer on Radio 4 and as the voice of the Shipping Forecast.

The amateur gardener said she would not shy away from asking panellists about the basics.

Clugston joked on Twitter that an "odd thing has happened" when her role was announced.

She added in a statement: "I've had a few pinch-me moments since I started at Radio 4 - my first Shipping Forecast, reading the news on Today - but this beats them.

"I've listened to Gardeners' Question Time for years but never did I imagine I'd be stepping into the shoes of the great Eric Robson. It is one of the pillars of Radio 4. I feel honoured and excited.

"One of my jobs as host will be to make new listeners feel welcome. I'm a novice and won't be shy about asking the panellists to spell things out if they get too technical."

Robson said it felt like the "appropriate time" to move on after 25 years, explaining: "I've loved every minute, but I'm also delighted to be handing the trowel on to Kathy, someone I know will fit right in to the Gardeners' Question Time family."

The Belfast broadcaster's first programme will air on May 3.

Clugston, who attended Methodist College and studied languages at Queen's University, worked as a continuity announcer and transmission director at BBC Northern Ireland from 1996 to 2003.

Meanwhile, Emily Maitlis has been appointed as the new host of Newsnight.

The appointment means the BBC 2 current affairs show now has an all-female line-up.

Veteran presenter Kirsty Wark is moving to a different role on the programme.

Canadian-born Maitlis said: "I'm delighted to be moving into this role at a time when Newsnight feels so pivotal to our understanding of this extraordinary moment in British history."

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