Belfast Telegraph

Kathy Burke: My fury at John Humphrys three days a week was like a marriage

Admirers of the ‘gloriously irascible’ broadcaster commented as he bade farewell to the Today programme.

Kathy Burke wished good luck to John Humphrys after he hosted his final Today programme (PA Wire/PA)
Kathy Burke wished good luck to John Humphrys after he hosted his final Today programme (PA Wire/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Kathy Burke has joked that being furious with “miserable old git” John Humphrys over the years was almost like a marriage.

The comedian, actress and writer was among those paying tribute to Humphrys as he bowed out of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after 32 years.

The broadcaster, 76, has been a divisive figure during his tenure on the current affairs programme, with listeners often criticising his interview style and tactless approach to matters.

Burke poked fun at her moments of rage against Humphrys, tweeting: “I’ve never been married but being furious with John Humphrys at least three out of five days every other week has felt like I was.

“Think I’m gonna miss the miserable old git. Good luck to him.”

PM host Evan Davis, who previously worked with Humphrys on Today, tweeted that his former colleague “really deserves all the accolades”.

“I found that the more I saw him at work on @BBCr4today close up, the more I respected him and understood why he had such enduring appeal.”

He added that there is “way more to him than the adversarial interviews people talk about.”

BBC News at Six host George Alagiah said he felt “bereft” after hearing Humphrys’s final broadcast, while Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan hailed him for his “32 gloriously irascible years”.

Referring to the Today host’s apology for being “a bit grumpy”, Morgan added: “No apology necessary.

“He’s been the greatest radio interrogator of them all, and will be hugely missed.”

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston tweeted: “From one total obsessive to another, you will be missed John Humphrys. You care about the craft in the way that not enough do.”

Broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth said he was “sorry to see John Humphrys taking early retirement”.

He added: “In my book, he’s the best. (And I knew Jack de Manio.)”

Gardeners’ World host Monty Don told of his “ever-increasing admiration and respect” for Humphrys over the past 32 years, adding: “One of the truly great broadcasters and a fine man.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: “Thank you John Humphrys for your huge contribution to public service broadcasting in our country.

“Although at times I could have brained you for your interruptions, your forensic interviews held us all to account enhancing our political debate. Have a great retirement.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock congratulated the broadcaster “for a lifetime of grilling, bringing light, entertainment and accountability to British public life.

“We politicians may not always enjoy the keen eye of scrutiny, but healthy democracy relies on it.”

While there was an outpouring of respect for Humphrys, there was also joy from some to see him hang up his microphone.

Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett quipped: “Today is John Humphrys last day on #r4today, so it seems appropriate to be polite.

“I won’t say anything.”

Humphrys’s final programme saw him interview former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, and he was also joined by Dame Edna Everage.

Humphrys will not be replaced by the BBC on the early morning programme.

Instead, presenters Justin Webb, Mishal Husain, Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson will fill in his shifts going forward.

PA

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