Huw Edwards and Fiona Bruce will be the new presenters of the Ten O'Clock News when Michael Buerk and Peter Sissons step down, the BBC announced yesterday.
The pair will recreate their current roles on the Six O'Clock News – Edwards will anchor the programme and Bruce will be the second presenter. There was speculation that Bruce was the front-runner for the job because BBC1 executives saw her as appealing to the female audience but others said she did not want the job because of family commitments.
Both said they were delighted with their new roles yesterday, in a BBC news shake-up that sees George Alagiah and BBC Breakfast presenter Sophie Raworth taking over at 6pm. Edwards, who switched from political correspondent to presenting the Six O'Clock News three years ago, said it was a huge privilege to follow Buerk, 56, and Sissons, 60.
Sissons announced his departure last week with a swipe at what he saw as the BBC's ageism in its choice of staff. In June, Buerk said he would quit news reading after 14 years.
Edwards said: "I'll be doing my very best to maintain the high standards they've set over the years." Bruce said she was thrilled to be offered the prestigious job. "At the same time it enables me to spend time with my family and fulfil my other BBC1 commitments [such as Crimewatch UK]."
Although there were rumours that news executives favoured Alagiah for the 10pm job because of his reporting experience from Africa, Richard Sambrook, the director of BBC News, said Edwards and Bruce had an impressive range of experience. The changes come into effect at the beginning of next year.
Alagiah will leave BBC4, where he has been presenting the news since its launch in March. He said: "It's a rare privilege to be asked to anchor what is the most watched news programme in Britain. Sophie and I are determined to find the right combination of authority and accessibility that is so important at that time of day."
The Breakfast show will be presented by Dermot Murnaghan, who is joining from ITN, and Natasha Kaplinsky who is joining from Sky.
* Nigel Dacre is stepping down as editor of ITV News after seven years. He will be replaced by David Mannion, his predecessor. ITV sources said the move had nothing to do with ITV News ratings.