Radio presenter Eddie Mair to leave BBC after more than 30 years
In his typically wry style, Mair, 52, joked that his departure as the main presenter for Radio 4’s PM news programme would bring doom to the BBC, but a brilliant chance to shine for his successor.
He said: “It’s 31 years since I joined the BBC, 25 years since I first presented PM, and 20 since it became my main gig.
“I thought this was the appropriate moment to step out and give someone else a chance, before I’m so old my sentences make no lasagne.
“I’m going to miss the PM team, and Tony Hall’s aftershave. I realise the BBC will close down without me and there will be a run on the pound but I can’t stay in an organisation that refused to let me host Songs of Praise. I bought a jacket and everything.
“I’m truly grateful to the BBC, however for being given more opportunities over the years than I deserved. My apologies to PM listeners for all the things I’ve said that I shouldn’t have, and all the things I should have said that I didn’t.
“Whoever comes next will be getting the best job in the BBC and I honestly wish them the very best.”
He later tweeted supporters: “Thank you for all the kind words. I appreciate them. But there are journalists in the world who are being shot, jailed, held hostage or forced to work with @corrie_corfield. I’m only changing jobs. So please do something about them. (Not Corrie. She’s lovely. Mainly).”
His last show at the helm of the PM flagship evening news programme will be on August 17.
Fran Unsworth, director of BBC News, said the hugely popular Mair has had a “fantastic career” at the corporation, adding: “Eddie has delivered outstanding journalism and created a real bond with the audience through his mixture of warmth, incisive questioning and knowing when to listen in order to get the very best out of his guests.
“He is one of the outstanding broadcasters of his generation and his new employer is very lucky to have him.
“Eddie leaves with our thanks and everyone at the BBC wishes him well for the future.”
Mair joined PM as a regular co-host in 1998 and became the sole presenter of PM in 2003. He has won the Sony Awards for Speech Broadcaster of the Year and News Journalist of the Year - and helped the programme to win a Sony Gold award in the Interactive category in 2007.
Mair also won a Sony Gold in 2012 for his interview with Julie Nicholson, who lost her daughter Jenny in the London bombings of 7 July 2005.
He was born in Dundee and began his journalistic career at Radio Tay in the city, hosting weekly phone-ins, news shows and the breakfast show.
He joined the BBC in 1987, starting as a sub-editor for Radio Scotland and later presented the station’s flagship television and radio news programmes, Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland.
He hosted the new morning programme Eddie Mair Live, which won a Gold Sony Award for best Breakfast Show.
Gwyneth Williams, controller of R4, said: “Eddie is a consummate broadcaster. You want to be in his hands when news breaks and I remember too, with respect, but also personal sadness, his conversations with Steve Hewlett (the broadcaster who died in 2017) during Steve’s illness.
“I would like to thank him for his commitment over so many years to PM, Radio 4 and our audience.”