Emma Barnett leaves BBC’s Woman’s Hour for Today programme

She previously presented BBC current affairs programme Newsnight before leaving in 2022.

Charlotte McLaughlin
Friday 15 March 2024 13:58 GMT
Emma Barnett is departing Woman’s Hour (Ian West/PA)
Emma Barnett is departing Woman’s Hour (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

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Emma Barnett is stepping down as the main host of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour to present the Today programme on the same station.

The broadcaster and journalist, 39, will leave Woman’s Hour in April after being at the helm since January 2021.

She said that the programme “means a great deal to me and I want to thank the team and our mighty army of listeners for how much we have shared – the joy, wisdom, sorrow and sometimes sheer rage”.

During her stint, she interviewed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe shortly after the British-Iranian dual national returned to the UK following her imprisonment – and made what she described as a “rare and special conversation” happen with singer Kate Bush.

“We are living in volatile times where sometimes even asking a question can seem risky – wrongly so,” Barnett also said.

“My ambition on the Today programme is to keep asking the questions that listeners want answers to – as well as raising many smiles along the way – while armed with a very strong cup of tea.

“I am delighted to be joining a programme that occupies such a unique space in British life and to also have the opportunity to expand my work across BBC TV and news.”

In May, she will join the BBC Radio show’s main presenting team, which also includes Justin Webb, Mishal Husain, Amol Rajan, Martha Kearney and Nick Robinson.

Irish journalist Kearney announced last month that she would exit the programme after the General Election, but continue to work at the station, where she will front a new interview series called This Natural Life.

She will continue to present Today until the UK goes to the polls, the BBC previously announced.

“Emma is a formidable, fearless and ferociously intelligent journalist and I’m delighted that she will be showcasing her considerable talents across all of BBC News’ platforms,” Deborah Turness, chief executive of BBC News said.

“Emma will bring her unique energy and verve to our brilliant team of Today presenters – every day they ask the questions that need answering, and host the UK’s most important conversation. I’m thrilled that Emma is joining that team, who are at the top of their game.”

Barnett previously presented BBC current affairs programme Newsnight before leaving in 2022.

She took over the hosting duties of Woman’s Hour after Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray both decided to quit the show, focused on women.

In Barnett’s first week, actress Kelechi Okafor alleged she heard the former BBC Radio 5 Live presenter talking about her to producers before the show went on air and pulled out of an appearance.

Barnett claimed on Twitter, formerly X, that Okafor hung up after she asked for her response about remarks she had made.

Anita Rani began hosting the Friday and Saturday editions in January 2021.

Last year, Barnett was mentioned in the BBC’s annual report which disclosed she had a salary of £185,000-£189,999 for 2022/23, down from £215,000-£219,999 in 2021/22.

A new presenter is set to be recruited by the BBC.

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