John humphrys

Beware the wokeplace romance

I wonder if we are beginning to see the end of assortative mating. For a long while now we have tended to select our life partners from the place in which we work — rather than, as before, from our home towns or places of education. This process began with the long march of women into the workplace in the early 1970s, a development which, while overall being undoubtedly both benign and just, nonetheless slightly widened the gap between rich and poor. Men and women who worked together had a tendency to, if I can put it like this, cop off. This meant we had many more families where both

From Brexit to Beethoven: John Humphrys returns to radio

Some listeners will have had quite a shock first thing on Monday. Turning on at six to Classic FM they would have heard a familiar voice but not quite the one they expected. In yet another surprising turn of events, John Humphrys, the fox terrier of news broadcasting, has just completed a stint on Classic FM’s breakfast show, swapping Brexit for Beethoven and smooth radio for the ebullient hectoring of the Today programme. ‘No need to readjust your radio,’ laughed Humphrys just after seven, before introducing the next track, Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite. Humphrys actually sounded as if he was beginning to enjoy himself, reading out readers’ emails, introducing the School

Nick Robinson: is the country ready for Hexit?

The nation is deeply divided. We can, it seems, talk of almost nothing else. Passions could scarcely be higher. No court or parliament can block or postpone it. Hexit is happening. That’s right. Hexit. Humphrys is leaving the Today programme after 30 years. On learning the news, one of more than seven million loyal listeners revealed his outrage and sense of loss, tweeting: ‘Who will I shout at on the radio in future?!’ My friend and companion in the Today studio Justin Webb replied with his characteristic charm. ‘Oh, that’s simple. Nick Robinson.’ I have been warned. John is famously irascible. His on-air harrumphing has often been preceded by off-air

What’s the point of the Today programme?

What else is there to write about in the week that John Humphrys, that titan of the BBC airwaves, retires from his duties on the Today programme? Love or hate his terrier-like style of interviewing — baiting and occasionally biting his victims metaphorically on air — there’s no denying his stature as a news broadcaster or his influence on that staple of the Radio 4 schedule. He will surely be missed, much as Sue MacGregor, Brian Redhead, Jim Naughtie et al are missed, their presence in our lives determined by that early-morning slot, the first voice we might hear each day, the voice that brings news of never-to-be-forgotten events, the

Street life | 16 August 2018

‘What can you tell me just now,’ asks Audrey Gillan. She’s talking to Tara, who’s been sleeping rough on Fournier Street in Spitalfields, close to Gillan’s home. Tara, aged 47, sounds like a man, so deep and growly is her voice, ruined by drink, cigarettes and the hardness of her life. Gillan wants to know how and why she ended up living on the street. But beyond explaining that she was slung out by her mum when she was 14 there’s little that Tara can or is prepared to tell Gillan. In Tara and George on Radio 4 (produced by Gillan and Johnny Miller) we are taken on to the

John Humphrys has the last laugh at Oldie of the Year

John Humphrys has had a rough time of late. Not only has the Today programme anchor voluntarily taken three pay cuts – with his salary thought to have been cut from £649,000 to under £300,000 – he has received little credit for it. Humphrys has come under flak from all sides after a conversation in which he joked about a female colleague’s warnings over the gender pay gap at the BBC was leaked to the Sun. The comments irked Tracey Crouch – a government minister – so much that she refused appear on Today. So Mr S is pleased to report that Humphrys has finally found a safe space. The BBC

Diary – 18 January 2018

My friend John Humphrys has managed to get on to the front pages again. We first met in the 1980s when I was a very junior bod on Today and he had just arrived to present. He was the same then as he is now: argumentative, hostile to authority of any kind, gimlet-focused on what people said (on and off air) but quick to smile too, and quick to laugh at himself. He was also uninterested in his own seniority at a time when the BBC was still as conscious of rank as the department store bosses in Are You Being Served? I don’t think Brian Redhead or John Timpson

Rod Liddle

Women’s pay could bankrupt the BBC

I hope you are enjoying the BBC drama series Hard Sun. It is described as pre-apocalyptic science fiction, set in the present day UK. The head of MI5 is a Nigerian woman and everybody else in it lives in a mixed-race family — so, if you are a racist, you might well query that aforementioned description pre-apocalyptic: it’s upon us! The rest of us will simply think it’s ludicrous and bears no relation to the country in which we live, and might become irritated by the BBC forcing this PC social engineering down our throats at every possible opportunity. Although we may already have filled up our beakers of irritation

John Humphrys, equal pay crusader

It’s been an awkward week or so for John Humphrys. The Today programme presenter – who is thought to earn over £600,000 per annum – found himself in the naughty corner when an audio surfaced of Humphrys appearing to make light of his colleague Carrie Gracie’s decision to stand down as China editor over ‘pay discrimination’. His comments were met with fury by many BBC colleagues concerned over the corporation’s gender pay gap. So let’s spare a minute to pay tribute the bright spark at the Beeb who decided it would be a good idea to get Humphrys to grill the Guardian‘s Katharine Viner over potential gender pay imbalance at the

Who will watch for BBC bias in the EU referendum campaign?

It is wearisome work, but I hope the ‘leave’ campaign is carefully monitoring the BBC’s coverage of the referendum. On Monday, the first full weekday since Mr Cameron’s ‘legally binding’ deal, I listened to the Today programme for more than two hours. I heard six speakers for ‘remain’ and two (John Mills and Nigel Lawson) for ‘leave’. In this I am not including any of the BBC interviewers themselves, though my hunch, based solely on the way they ask questions, is that all of them, with the possible exception of John Humphrys, are for ‘remain’. The guests explicitly in favour of ‘remain’ were Carolyn Fairbairn, Sir Mike Rake, Stanley Johnson and Michael Fallon. Jonathan

The BBC has become obsessed with sex

So Pope John Paul II had a mistress. That’s not quite what the BBC’s Panorama asserted, but they chucked around enough hint, innuendo and nudge, nudge to make us believe he had. And there was similar suggestiveness in a Today programme interview on Monday morning between John Humphrys and the liberal Catholic journalist Edward Stourton. Humphrys delighted in the whiff of salaciousness and wondered aloud whether Stourton’s discovery of hundreds of letters between the former Pope and the Polish-American philosopher Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka indicated that the pair were lovers. After much whetting of our licentious appetites, the BBC concluded that they were ‘More than friends but not quite lovers.’ They were certainly collaborators: Anna-Teresa

Why sorry isn’t the hardest word for Bernard Hogan-Howe

Bernard Hogan-Howe did his best to appear calm on the Today show but it is clear he is increasingly rattled by the pressure he is under. The Met Police commissioner was on the front page of several newspapers this morning for all the wrong reasons. ‘Just say sorry’, screamed The Sun. The Daily Mail went with: ‘And still he won’t say sorry’. Those hoping for an apology from the police over their handling of the investigation into Lord Bramall amid unfounded allegations of child abuse have been left waiting longer though. His interview with John Humphrys this morning was tetchy to say the least. Hogan-Howe refused to say sorry and

Is John Humphrys turning into a ‘patronising old duffer’?

This morning Today show presenters Justin Webb and John Humphrys found themselves under fire after they listed the guest editors that will be taking control of the show as of next week. When it came to name Miriam González Durántez’s upcoming slot, Webb said: ‘you’ll hear from the lawyer Miriam González, also of course Nick Clegg’s wife’. A number of bothered listeners were quick to complain online that she was the only guest editor to be described in relation to her partner. While one could argue that González first came to the media’s attention through her politician husband, this is not the first time the Today presenters have been criticised over their attitude to women. In fact in a recent

Here’s what Tim Farron should have said to John Humphrys and Cathy Newman

Three interesting bits of theology in the media last week, two of them thanks to Tim Farron. Interviewing Farron, John Humphrys noted that he has said that he seeks ‘guidance from God’ in prayer, on important decisions. Shouldn’t voters be concerned about this turn away from normal evidence-based decision-making? A foolish question. Farron rightly replied that it surely wasn’t so shocking if a Christian said his prayers. What next? Humphrys: So, Mr Farron, you were heard just last Sunday publicly expressing the wish that ‘God’s kingdom’ should come, and I quote, ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. That would surely be a total change to Britian’s political system, and to

First James Naughtie, now John Humphrys slips up over Jeremy Hunt

When James Naughtie steps down from the Today programme this autumn, his Jeremy Hunt gaffe will stand out as one of his more memorable moments. The Scottish presenter accidentally introduced him by the wrong surname in 2010: ‘First up after the news, we’re going to be talking to Jeremy C–t.’ The health secretary continues to cause problems for the staff of Radio 4. This morning, Naughtie’s colleague John Humphrys also got Hunt’s name wrong. Reading the news bulletin at 7am, Humphrys said the ‘health secretary James Hunt’ is setting out plans for NHS consultants to work at weekends. While the slip wasn’t an expletive this time around, given that the BBC are currently

The real reason Jeremy Clarkson’s gone? The BBC loathed his politics

I still don’t know which way John Humphrys votes and I’ve been a friend of the chap for more than a quarter of a century. Hell, we’ve been on holiday together, twice. I have very few friends in mediaville, but John is certainly one, and the oldest friend within that milieu, at that. But I still couldn’t tell you what way he votes. That fact alone might well signal to you that he tends to the Right; liberals are so unstintingly forthcoming about their fatuous opinions, so ready to declaim and shriek and disparage anyone who might dare gainsay them. But even then I wouldn’t be too sure. It’s probably

I suspected the ‘liberal’ fascists would eventually get Jeremy Clarkson

I read that Jeremy Clarkson had been suspended by the BBC for ‘a fracas’ with a producer. We don’t know what happened yet – but that hasn’t stopped my phone ringing with requests for interviews from Channel Four News (natch) and, yes, the BBC – the producers beside themselves with glee. And already one witless columnist – the staggeringly hopeless Deborah Orr in the Guardian, who nobody has ever read voluntarily – demanding Clarkson resign. Before this imbecilic woman knows even the slightest about what has taken place. Strike one up for the usual ‘liberal’ fascism. What’s he done? Dunno – but sack the bastard anyway. Evil, stupid, people. I

The one economic indicator that never stops rising: meet the Negroni Index

This dispatch comes to you from Venice — where I arrived at sunset on the Orient Express. More of that journey on another occasion, I hope. Suffice to say that if you happen to have been wrestling with the moral choice of bequeathing what’s left of your tax-bitten wealth to ungrateful offspring or spending it on yourself, don’t hesitate to invest in a last fling on this time capsule of elegant extravagance. Made up of rolling stock built in the late 1920s, the train itself symbolises everything that 20th-century Europe was good at — engineering, craftsmanship, style, cross-border connections — when not distracted by political folly and war. Views from

John Humphrys and the BBC’s disdain for market capitalism

Last week’s market tremor, provoked by renewed fears of eurozone stagnation and a slowdown in global growth, was serious enough for IMF chief Christine Lagarde to feel the need to pronounce, in her most soothing tone, that it was ‘maybe at this stage an over-reaction’. But if you were listening to the Today programme on Saturday morning, you might have thought it was all a bit of a joke — and one that served irresponsible investors right. In the absence of economics editor Robert Peston and his almost invisible successor as business editor, Kamal Ahmed, John Humphrys conducted a notably flippant interview with ‘one of the world’s most influential investors’,