Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Was Humphrys to Blame for Stourton's Departure?

Back when Mark Damazer got the job as Radio 4 controller, a certain Edward Stourton greeted the news in an article by Tim Luckhurst in the Independent on Sunday...
"Today needs a lift and PM has lost its way. Damazer urgently needs to decide who is presenting Today and whether Sarah Montague is a permanent replacement for Sue MacGregor. Edward Stourton is a Damazer fan; he greeted the appointment yesterday as "unalloyed good news". But there is still the question of John Humphrys - who remains one of the great post-Hutton survivors and still raises hackles with his interviewing style."
Stourton and Damazer had been university friends and fellow news trainees at ITN. John Humphrys was quick to phone Stourton to commiserate when he heard the news at the weekend. As well he might. Rumour is that he has just signed a new five year contract which will keep him on the Today Programme just past his 70th birthday. In 2007 he signed a two year deal and commented: "It will definitely be my last. But I have said that for the last four contracts."

So it seems Stourton's departure is directly linked to the fact that John Humphrys fancied one last hurrah.


britom said...

I doubt that you're reasoning has any basis in fact but of the two I prefer Humphrys by a large margin.

Chris Paul said...

Not much of a story.

Status quo was Humphreys has contract, Stourton is on board.

Humphreys has new contract, so this would only mean curtains for Stourton if he was to take over the lead role should JH finally retire.

If there's no vacancy there's no role for an heir for the next few years.

Nothing sinister, just normal personnel legacy/succession planning.

It's not as if Stourton will be out of work now is it?

britom said...

Sorry I meant to write "your" not "you're"!

Anonymous said...

Here's what an email I received from Today has to say......

"Thank you for contacting us regarding the news that Ed Stourton is to
leave Today late next year when Justin Webb joins the programme.

I am sure it will come as no surprise to hear that you are not alone in
wishing that Ed could stay. He has presented the programme with
distinction for nearly ten years, and he has many loyal supporters.

Programmes like Today try to achieve a delicate balance between the
experience and familiarity of presenters like Ed Stourton, and the need
to evolve gradually over time. The decision to replace a presenter is
one of the most difficult we ever take. It demands, and receives, great
consideration but we understand that it is never going to be universally
welcomed. The best we can say, perhaps, is that we do not do these
things lightly and that we act in what we think are the best long-term
interests of the programme. We will pass on your message of support to
Ed, along with the others we receive.

We are very sorry, of course, that Ed should have heard this news in the
way that he did, and we have offered him our apologies for the way the
announcement was handled. We had arrangements in place to meet Ed less
than twenty four hours later to discuss our plans but, regrettably,
someone involved in the process chose to leak the news to the Daily Mail

Within BBC News Ed is recognised as an outstanding journalist. The
Director of News, Helen Boaden, and the Controller of Radio Four, Mark
Damazer, have both made clear that, although Ed will not be presenting
Today, they want, and expect, him to remain a part of their plans, on
radio in particular, for many years to come."

Ceri Thomas

Weygand said...

Although I also am tired of Humphrys self regard (only outdone by the crass Naughtie), I cannot see how you can lay the 'blame' for Stourton's departure on him simply because he decided not to retire.

Indeed, Stourton is being replaced by Webb, which shows it was not a question of a competition between Stourton and Humphrys.

The sole people responsible are the BBC and the mealy-mouthed response from Ceri Thomas makes that clear.

Events dear boy, events said...

Whilst I back you up in your support of Stourton I do not follow the logic of this piece. My guess is that Ed would have gone anyway.

There is something very odd going on. Yes Damazer and Sourton were at Cambridge together and were friends. The former has not said much about this affair. However the Today Editor sent out an email yesterday and was very non plus about the fact that this leaked. He did not seem to care.

Damazer is not one to knife his friends, or he wasn't years ago when I knew him. I guess there has been some kind of bust up that has not yet seen the light of day.

Time will tell but out the truth will come.

Catosays said...

Iain, Totally O/T but read this about the inhabitants of Tunbridge Wells


Dick the Prick said...

Radio 4 has lost its way. Faie enough having Humph and Ned go to the theatre in the Sky can't be helped but The News Quiz - their flagship comedy programme - is just anti-Tory bile.

Anywho - i'm trying not to pay my telly tax so I guess i'm voting with my feet. Shame though, I used to love the beeb.

Bill Brinsmead said...

Out here in the country: ex small farmer and anti american Humphrys is too self regarding; Naughtie is an opera-loving, Tesco-hating, ex Guardian Scottish prat; Montague plainly hates us ordinary folk; Evanis bright..but; and Ed is a smug toff.

I hate them all.

Back to the sodden fields.

Mr Yithy said...

I tried to [politely] ask Justin Webb for his opinion, via his BBC Blog, but the question has spent more than a day with the moderators - I'm not holding my breath...