Evan Davis made new anchor on BBC’s Newsnight

Dragons’ Den presenter Evan Davis has been announced as Jeremy Paxman’s replacement on Newsnight.

Evan Davis leaves Radio 4s Today programme, which he has co-presented for six years. Picture: BBC

Paxman bowed out of the BBC2 news programme in June after 25 years.

BBC director general Tony Hall said that Davis, also known for his role on Radio 4 flagship breakfast news show Today, would do an “outstanding” job.

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The appointment comes after a turbulent period for Newsnight during which Lord McAlpine was wrongly accused of child abuse and an investigation into Jimmy Savile’s sex crimes was dropped.

The show’s female presenters, Laura Kuenssberg, Kirsty Wark and Emily Maitlis, had all been tipped for the plum role.

The director general said: “Evan is an outstanding journalist; an extraordinarily clever and intelligent interviewer. He has a wonderful presence on TV. I’ve got no doubt he will be a really great presence on Newsnight.”

Davis said on Twitter: “I didn’t believe it when I read about it in the papers but now it’s official. I’ll be leaving @BBCr4today and heading off to Newsnight.

“I had been determined to outlive John Humphrys on @BBCr4today so I have failed. But you can’t turn down Newsnight.”

Davis will be the anchor three nights a week from the autumn after hosting Today for six years.

Newsnight editor Ian Katz said: “Evan brings a rare combination of curiosity, intelligence and mischief to his broadcasting – just the qualities I want Newsnight to be known for.

“I’ve admired him from afar as a listener and viewer for years, and I’m thrilled he’s joining us to help reinvent the show where he made his name in the 90s.”

He said of his new role: “While it is a scary prospect, it will be an adventure and a challenge, and I hope the viewers will be happy with the result.”

The Oxford graduate added that he felt “terribly sad” to leave his present role and paid tribute to the team, saying: “I have been there for over six years and those have been some of the most satisfying of my career. That programme is put together by remarkably few people, and I can’t praise them highly enough for their professionalism and companionship.”

Controller of Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams, thanked Mr Davis, saying: “I would like to thank Evan for his inimitable contribution to Today, marked by intelligent enquiry, wit and the exposure of hubris. His loyal audience of seven million will miss his take on modern Britain.”

The appointment of Davis ahead of Kuenssberg, Wark and Maitlis came as the Trust pointed to a “continued gender imbalance in BBC output”.

The BBC’s governing body said there needs to be “a coordinated plan from the Executive” to address the issue.

However, it added: “There have been notable individual examples of a new commitment from the Executive to improve the representation of women on air, and some broader initiatives, such as the commitment for 
50 per cent of local radio stations to have a female breakfast presenter by the end of 2014.”

The Trust also said the BBC had fallen short of expectations with hefty payouts to some former staff last year, including to deputy director-general Mark Byford, who departed with a total payout of £949,000.

However, Ms Coyle insisted the BBC had now “found its feet” after a “bruising period”.