BBC News Fix

  • Nick Robinson steps down as political editor after a decade

    The BBC political editor Nick Robinson, 51, is to stand down soon to become a presenter on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, it has been announced today. After more than ten years in the role covering two general elections, he is to replace James Naughtie on Today who will take on a new role as a special correspondent for the prestigious radio station.

    Robinson was the BBC’s chief political correspondent between 1999 and 2002 before becoming the political editor at ITV. In 2005 he returned to the BBC replacing Andrew Marr as the corporation’s political editor.

    The Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall says: “The BBC has been fortunate to have in Nick Robinson the most authoritative and engaging political editor at work in Westminster over the past decade. He has been tireless and inquisitive, acute and open-minded. He has deciphered the coded world of politics with intelligence, clarity and wit.”

    Robinson’s contribution to political coverage has been extraordinary and his analysis, enthusiasm, contacts and knowledge of the political system is absolutely unrivalled. A household name, Nick Robinson (and his glasses) have informed and even entertained us with is highly valued contribution to political journalism.

    This announcement is thought to be the worst kept secret in broadcasting. It was always obvious that Robinson would join Today at some point after the general election although it was thought that he would replace John Humphrys. However, John does what he does best and it doesn’t appear that there’s anything that can force him out. Instead he will be replacing James Naughtie since 1994 and played a crucial role in the programme’s coverage of the Scottish independence referendum last year.

    Robinson has been suffering from lung cancer and as a consequence of this could only work for short periods during the election. He will start another course of chemotherapy very soon. It has not been announced exactly when he will begin his new role but when he does he will take on the huge responsibility of briefing over seven million listeners to the nation’s most popular breakfast programme. He will join Humphrys, Sarah Montague, Justin Webb and Mishal Husain.

    The question of course now though is: who will replace him? Numerous media reports suggest that the BBC is looking for its first ever female political editor and if this is the case then it will not struggle to find his successor. But there are other male contenders for the role too.

    The strong favourite is Newsnight’s chief correspondent Laura Kuenssberg who returned to the BBC in 2014 to front the show after a short spell at ITV. A former chief political correspondent, Kuenssberg received much acclaim during the 2010 election. Another person in the line up to succeed Nick is Allegra Stratton. The political editor of Newsnight is also a contender but is probably less likely to get the top job.

    Other media rumours suggest that Lucy Manning who recently joined from ITV could be a surprise appointment. Manning did a splendid job as the BBC’s Labour Campaign Correspondent during the 2015 election. I’ll throw in an outside shot at Reeta Chakrabarti. As a political correspondent for eleven years she is more than qualified and the BBC clearly like her given her rapid rise up the presenter ranks.

    James Landale, who has been the number two to Nick Robinson for over a decade, is clearly another obvious candidate. He took a leading role during the election due to Nick’s absence and has proved himself to be a natural successor. However, it has been rumoured that James may replace Tom Bradby as ITV’s political editor after it was announced last week that he would become the new presenters of the ITV’s News at Ten. If he does replace Bradby, then it would look increasingly likely that Kuenssberg will replace Nick.

    Outside contenders for the role would include Norman Smith, Carole Walker, Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel, Cathy Newman and Gary Gibbon. The likelihood of that one of them is appointed is small but you never know. If James does move to ITV then the roles of political and deputy political editors need filling.

    Speculation aside, the decision to appoint Nick Robinson as a presenter on Today is a fantastic one. His knowledge of politics and experience in broadcasting make him the perfect candidate and I am sure that he will be brilliant in the role when he returns. Interestingly, the BBC press release says that, “He will also report and present across television and radio for BBC News and Current Affairs.” This means that Robinson will stay play an important role in other areas of the BBC. His successor is to be announced in due course.


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