Is Huw Edwards really the new David Dimbleby?

The newsreader may be anchoring the royal wedding, but don't count out the veteran presenter yet

In broadcasting, as in politics, gossip is largely concerned with who's up and who's down, and the perception this week is that Huw Edwards has moved ahead of David Dimbleby in the BBC's presentational hierarchy after the Welshman was selected to anchor the coverage of next year's royal wedding.

I'm not sure, though, whether that's true, or how sorry Dimbleby will be. Although there's a tendency to treat all royal events as part of the same TV genre, there has long been a distinction between the white-dress and black-suit occasions. While weddings and funerals are linked in Richard Curtis movie titles and Coronation Street trails, journalists often better fit one or the other.

Dimbleby, for example, after his impeccable presentation of the funeral of Princess Diana, didn't host the wedding of Charles and Camilla (Michael Buerk filled in) but was back for the obsequies of the Queen Mother. Nor, earlier, had he been in charge for the Charles-Diana marriage. So the perception that one Dimbleby or other has seen every royal either walking or carried up the aisle turns out to be wrong.

The reason for this, I think, is that serious journalists tend to view royal weddings as showbiz and royal funerals as news, and the distinction is a reason-able one: the deaths of Diana and the Queen Mother had proper historical significance, of the sort that can be discussed with a Schama or a Starkey, whereas the weddings are, frankly, a bit Trinny and Susannah.

Dimbleby did front the coverage of Andrew and Fergie's doomed union but, looking at the footage now, he seems unusually uncomfortable on screen, probably because the instinct to look for the story is wrecked when the narrative is a manufactured fairy story.

The two biggest prizes in TV journalism remain the next general election and a major royal funeral. And it would seem premature to assume Edwards will present them or that Dimbleby won't. Huw and other presentational contenders remain princes of Wales to the big-event king.


Mark Lawson

The GuardianTramp

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