Laurie Mayer, the former Sky News journalist and spokesman for Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed, will lead the team of presenters lined up for the BBC’s new regional service for the South East.
Mayer, who left Sky News to work as director of public affairs for Harrods in 1998, will anchor the 6.30pm and lunch-time slots of BBC South East Today, the new regional programme for viewers in Kent and East Sussex.
A former BBC1 Newsbeat presenter, Mayer began his career as a breakfast show host on BBC Radio London in 1970. He joined Newsbeat three years later, staying there until 1979. He also worked on Nationwide, the London and South East regional news, the Six O’Clock News, BBC Breakfast News and Around Westminster.
Mayer, who was working for Sky News before leaving broadcasting for the high-profile PR role, parted company with Al Fayed last year.
Fronting the evening bulletin with Mayer will be John Young, who moves to the South East from BBC Bristol where he was education correspondent. A BBC journalist for 11 years, Young has worked in Newcastle, Cornwall and Belfast and has done stints at the BBC World Service and the Millbank political unit.
The morning presenter of what will be the BBC’s eleventh regional service will be Ceri Thompson, who has moved from HTV West in Bristol where she worked as a reporter, producer and presenter.
The television news, as well as radio and online services, will be based at a new centre in Tunbridge Wells.
The new service has been set up as part of the BBC £5.5m strategy to provide dedicated news for both London and the counties of the South East.
BBC London, which will be based in a new headquarters in Marylebone, will be launched later in the year.
More than 30 new jobs were created by the new service, with three specialist correspondents already appointed, along with six district reporting teams for Brighton, Hastings, Tunbridge Wells, Chatham, Dover and Canterbury.
"We have a fantastically talented team in place to front the new programmes," said Laura Ellis, head of regional and local programmes, South East. We’re sure they will soon become familiar and trusted faces to BBC viewers across Kent and East Sussex."
by Julie Tomlin