Huw Edwards: Former BBC flagship presenter’s four decades at the corporation

Edwards, who was born in Bridgend and brought up in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, joined the BBC as a trainee in 1984.

Catherine Wylie
Monday 22 April 2024 15:06 BST
Huw Edwards (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Huw Edwards (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Huw Edwards has been one of the most recognisable faces on British television, having anchored coverage of major national events and presented the BBC’s News At Ten.

The 61-year-old had fronted the flagship nightly news programme for the last 20 years, earning a reputation as a respected veteran broadcaster before announcing on Monday that he would resign from the BBC after allegations over payments for sexually explicit images.

Edwards, who was born in Bridgend and brought up in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire, joined the BBC as a trainee in 1984.

In four decades at the corporation, he has been among the broadcasting teams leading coverage of historic events including the late Queen’s funeral in 2022 and most recently the coronation of the King in May 2023.

Edwards, a married father of five, announced the late Queen’s death on the BBC in September 2022.

After an image of the flag at Buckingham Palace was shown at half mast, he told viewers: “A few moments ago Buckingham Palace announced the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

He then read out the statement from the Palace while dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and black tie, in line with the BBC’s dress code for when a member of the royal family dies as a mark of respect.

Edwards was the BBC’s go-to presenter for big news events and has been front and centre in live broadcasts of election coverage, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and Platinum Jubilee in 2022, the wedding of the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018, and the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh in 2021.

He was also the BBC’s voice at Trooping the Colour and the Festival of Remembrance.

Edwards was a Westminster correspondent for 13 years, and has played a key role in the BBC’s political reporting, taking over election coverage from the long-serving David Dimbleby in 2019.

He told Radio Times in 2019: “I’m going to let you in on a secret: the first time a senior BBC manager dangled this carrot in front of me was in 1992. So it’s been at the back of my mind since then.”

Edwards revealed in a documentary in 2021 that he had bouts of depression which have left him “bedridden” since 2002.

Speaking on a podcast hosted by Jane Garvey and Fi Glover, Fortunately… With Fi And Jane, he said he decided to share publicly that he has depression as he felt it was “complete hypocrisy” to support organisations such as the Shawmind Foundation or Mind without explaining why.

“I also felt that it might be someway helpful to people if I opened up about it and say, ‘You can do a job and you can be successful’, whether it’s just reading a bit of autocue or doing whatever it is… while also dealing with issues like that,” he told the podcast.

Edwards was the corporation’s highest paid newsreader, with a pay bracket of £435,000–£439,999 over 2023, up from £410,000-£414,000 on the previous period.

In 2018, it was reported he agreed to take a pay cut following revelations over unequal pay for men and women at the BBC.

The presenter shared with BBC Radio Cymru that he had lost weight and started training with former professional boxer Clinton McKenzie as he tried to get himself in shape in 2019 at the age of 58.

“The truth is that I lost weight because I felt unhealthy. It’s simple enough,” he told the radio station.

“I was physically and mentally in the wrong place. I was far too heavy and I wasn’t happy with that. I wasn’t happy with my own appearance, and I realised that I wasn’t being fair with my own body in terms of my general health and wellbeing.

“I just felt pretty low to be honest, and it got progressively worse. Losing weight and getting fit have been a transformation for me.”

Edwards said in 2021 that he was considering his future presenting News At Ten as he approached his 60th birthday.

“A time comes when you’re bound to reassess what’s in front of you,” he told Radio Cymru in a Welsh-language interview.

“Now that a big milestone is here, which is 60 years old, it’s natural for a man to think ‘Am I going to continue in this job for another five years, or do I want to do something different?’

“The nightly news business, after 20 years, that can be taxing, even though I still enjoy the job.

“I don’t think I’ll be doing that for long. Because I believe that, in the first place, I think it’s fair for the viewers to get a change.

“Secondly, I have co-workers who are very talented – it’s time to give them a chance too.”

But Edwards said he would not be giving up journalism entirely.

He added: “I won’t disappear tomorrow from the 10 o’clock news because I’m still enjoying myself.

“But of course, I’m thinking about the working patterns of the future. And the truth is that I don’t want to sustain these working patterns for a long time to come, because I don’t believe it’s a very wise thing at all.”

An article on the BBC website in 2002 said Edwards was determined to stamp his own identity on News At Ten.

“You don’t want to let people down, but at the same time, I want to do it in my own way. I don’t want to be a clone of Sissons or Buerk,” he said.

Edwards, who attended Llanelli Grammar School and graduated in French from Cardiff University, is an honorary professor in the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at his old university.

In June 2023, Edwards picked up the best live event honour at the Tric Awards for being among those to cover the state funeral of the late Queen, and in February he received the Broadcast Awards’ special recognition award.

In May, it was announced that Edwards had joined the TV presenting line-up for the Proms 2023 before also stepping away from that position and being off-air following the announcement that he was the BBC presenter at the centre of an exclusive story by The Sun.

The newspaper detailed allegations that a broadcaster paid a young person for sexually explicit photos and was later suspended by the BBC.

Edwards’ wife Vicky Flind named him in July 2023 as the person at the centre of the story and said he was receiving in-patient hospital care and suffering “serious mental health issues”.

In a letter to BBC News, the young person at the centre of the Edwards controversy said via lawyers nothing inappropriate or unlawful happened with the then-unnamed presenter.

In February this year, the corporation apologised to the family of the young person after a review into how non-editorial complaints are handled at the corporation.

The family of the young person originally complained about Edwards to the BBC in May 2023 and the BBC said it tried to contact them twice before the Sun story.

However, BBC senior leadership was only informed of the issue on July 6, the review said.

BBC Group chief operating officer Leigh Tavaziva said: “The report identifies specific process shortcomings in the presenter case.

“The initial complaint in this case was not escalated quickly enough to senior management and we have apologised to the complainant for this.”

Edwards is listed as a vice president on the website of the National Churches Trust and has appeared on Songs Of Praise.

He has also made documentaries for the BBC including Wales: Who Do We Think We Are? and talked about his depression on S4C’s Huw Edwards Is 60.

Edwards said during the 2021 documentary that he had experienced bouts of depression over the last two decades which can leave him “bedridden”.

“Like everyone that suffers with depression, you don’t get one bout of it. It comes and goes,” he said.

“For me, it started around 2002 I think. I went down fairly quickly and I couldn’t understand it.”

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