Back to ours: Radio 4 picks Hull and Nicola Adams for festive line-up

Mishal Husain, with co-presenter John Humphrys, in the BBC Radio 4 studio
Mishal Husain, with co-presenter John Humphrys, in the BBC Radio 4 studio
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BBC boss Tony Hall promised that next year would be “unashamedly Hull-centric.”

And he’s living up to the pledge with the city today being named as the first ever to guest edit a festive season broadcast for its flagship radio news programme.

The Today programme - with presenter Mishal Husain - decamps to Hull from London for the live broadcast on New Year’s Eve - just hours before City of Culture 2017 gets underway.

Broadcasting from as yet undisclosed locations, including a pub and a school, the show will include a panel of political and cultural figures, but aims to be the “reverse of the normal guest edit with the great and the good.”

It has become tradition for the progamme - previously voted the most influential news programme in Britain - to hand over the reins to high profile figures during the festive period.

And this year it has also invited two-time Olympic gold-winning boxer, Leeds-born Nicola Adams - who has approached the broadcast with the punch you would expect.

She will be taking a look at combat sports and women in boxing. Chef Gordon Ramsay will speak about his love of martial arts while ex-boxer Ricky Hatton will talk frankly about depression.

“We are always looking for people who made their mark during this year and out of all the Olympics stories - and there are lots of impressive ones - hers was really impressive, retaining her title,” the programme’s assistant editor John Shields said.

“As people who have heard her on Desert Islands Discs, she has this magnetic personality, which works really well for radio. One of the principles of the guest editors is to take it a bit behind topics we wouldn’t normally cover and she has done definitely done that.”

The Hull programme will be aired between 7am and 9am on Saturday December 31 as the countdown begins for the huge fireworks display the following day and the start of a seven-day son et lumiere show, Made In Hull. Around half will be focussed on Hull, the rest on regular news. Council leader Steve Brady, who will be appearing on the programme, called it a “historic opportunity.”

The most popular programme on Radio 4, it has been voted the most influential news programme in Britain with 6.8 million listeners a week. Coun Brady said: “I think it is great to get national recognition.

“I will be telling them about the wonderful people of Hull, the vibrancy the city is experiencing and the opportunities for the future for Hull.

“It will be getting the story of Hull out to the national media, because I just think Hull has had such an unfair portrayal over the last few years.”

Martin Green, CEO Hull 2017, said the programme would be an exciting preview to Made In Hull and to an “extraordinary” year.

The city is working to a plan launched in 2013 to create 7,500 jobs.

In the past year there’s been huge investment both from the private and public sector, with highlights including the opening of the Siemens blade factory, work getting underway on the £105m Reckitt Benckiser centre of scientific excellence, as well as City of Culture raising £32m - nearly double its original £18m target.

Nearly £25m is being ploughed into an upgrade of the city centre, including two of its principal squares, while another £20m is being spent on the Ferens Art Gallery, and Hull New Theatre. Work has also started on one of the key “legacy” projects, the £36m concert and conference centre, Hull Venue.