John Humphrys: ‘I should have left Today programme years ago’

Broadcaster John Humphrys during a visit to Edinburgh. Picture: David Moir
Broadcaster John Humphrys during a visit to Edinburgh. Picture: David Moir
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John Humphrys has said he fears life after the Today programme but feels he “should have gone years ago”.

The veteran BBC broadcaster has worked on the Radio 4 current affairs show for 32 years and despite his love for Today believes he should have quit earlier in his career.

Humphrys, 75, said the show has dominated his life and his obsession with the news left little room for other ambitions.

In an interview on Radio 4’s The World At One, the presenter admitted being apprehensive about leaving behind such an important part of his life.

Speaking to his former Today colleague Sarah Montague, he said: “I love doing the programme, I have always enjoyed it, always loved it. And I still [do], that’s the problem.

“I should have gone years ago, obviously I should have gone years ago, but I love doing the programme.

“As you know, when you do this programme it dominates your life, not just because you have to get up in the morning so many days a week, but all the time, you have to be obsessed - I think that is the right word - with what’s going on out there.”

“You have to read everything and listen to everything and all the rest of it. There are so many things you think ‘oh I could have done this, I could have done that’ and I’m never going to do them if I stay on this programme.”

Despite feeling he needed to leave to regain some of his time from the obsession with current affairs and rigorous programming schedule, he added that he fears what will come next.

He said: “I worry about missing the programme, and I do now. I genuinely worry about what it is going to be like not doing the Today programme - 32 years is very long time.”

Humphrys will end his time on the Today programme, but will continue with other BBC work, and remain on Mastermind.

He said it was a “huge privilege” to have a bond with millions of listeners during his long service on Today.

Fran Unsworth, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, said: “For more than 30 years John Humphrys has been a stalwart of Today. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that anyone who’s played a key role in the political events of the last three decades has been interviewed by John. But most importantly, he has always been a champion of his listeners, holding the powerful to account on their behalf. John will be sorely missed by audiences and his colleagues when he leaves the programme this year - if perhaps less so by the politicians he interviews.”

He is set to step aside in the autumn.