James Naughtie to quit Today programme: Calling Jeremy Hunt a 'c***' made him a superstar

Presenter is stepping down after 21 years as a main presenter on the programme

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The Independent Online

James Naughtie will be remembered for challenging government ministers with his famously long-winded questions after he steps down as a presenter on the Today programme next January.

But it was a moment on the flagship Radio 4 show five years ago that made him a superstar with the programme's more left-wing listeners.

Giving a quick preview of what was coming up in the next hour of the show, Mr Naughtie whetted the appetite of its listeners by telling them about an upcoming interview with Jeremy "C**t". He meant to say Jeremy Hunt, the then Conservative Culture Secretary, but there is no going back on live radio.

Warning: contains strong language

The presenter later issued several apologies for his "Spoonerism" - a reference to Dr William Spooner who was notorious for inappropriately switching letters between words.

"Sometimes things happen in live broadcasting that you deeply regret," Mr Naughtie said. "I hope that all those who were offended by what they heard realise it was completely unintentional."