John Humphrys is leaving Today at last, so why don't I feel triumphant? | Zoe Williams

The presenter has announced he is leaving the Radio 4 show later this year. Now that he’s going, I remember what I liked about him

I woke up to the news in stereo: John Humphrys on the radio, being infuriating, and John Humphrys in the Daily Mail, making the announcement that he is to leave the Today programme, possibly as soon as this autumn. Harrrumph, I snorted. Only someone who is a thousand years old could call autumn “soon”.

Railing against Humphrys has become the engine of my mornings, a tea tree shower gel and ginger juice bomb combined. On particularly bad mornings – when he is telling Jacob Rees-Mogg chummily that he knew his father – I have to get out of bed and fetch my laptop, because tweeting on my phone just isn’t fast enough. It is often hard to disentangle what I am angry about, between Humphrys, the Today programme and the BBC generally, but I don’t care. I have enough fury for all of them.

Humphrys brings his own peculiar flavour of wrong to a pro-Brexit bias that I’ll flesh out another time. (Irish border problem, you say? Why doesn’t Ireland do us all a favour and leave the EU as well?) He seems to find the very voices of the opposition annoying, and women more annoying than men, bringing an irascible edge to debates that make it hard to figure out what they are saying, even if they have something concrete to say. He often favours the “many people think [insert ridiculous assertion]” interview approach, leaving us yelling “Who? WHO THINKS THAT?” at the radio.

Anyway, now he’s leaving, I don’t feel triumphant at all. I am thinking about the old Humphrys, the one who used to enjoy a bit of mischief, the one who wrote a sensitive and unexpected book about assisted dying, and I miss the political culture that made that Humphrys. I think we probably all used to be nicer and less Harrumphrys. I can’t imagine who would replace him. Today presenters, huh? Can’t live with ’em …


Zoe Williams

The GuardianTramp

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