Lawley to leave Desert Island Discs

Sue Lawley is to give up presenting Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. She has been with the programme since 1987 and is only the third person to occupy the presenter’s chair in its 64-year history.

Lawley said: "I told Mark Damazer a couple of weeks ago that I would like to give up the programme.

"I’ve had more than 18 very happy years and have talked to some extraordinary people as they revealed themselves through their choice of music.

"It is one of the best jobs in broadcasting. But it has dominated my professional life and I feel the time has come to concentrate on other aspects of broadcasting and maybe a bit of business too."

Lawley’s last programme will be Sunday, 27 August.

Desert Island Discs was devised in 1942 by Roy Plomley, who presented the programme until his death in 1985. Michael Parkinson succeeded him and Sue Lawley took over in 1987.

Lawley has attracted some of the biggest names in politics, the arts, literature, science and sport. The most recent audience research (RAJAR Quarter 4 2005) shows the highest audience figures since 1999.

Mark Damazer, Controller Radio 4, said: "I tried hard to persuade Sue to change her mind but to no avail. She started her career as a journalist and is still a journalist at heart.

"She also has an enormous interest in people. Put these two attributes together and you end up with fascinating and entertaining interviews that are now the hallmark of Desert Island Discs. She will be a tough act to follow."

Lawley started her career as a trainee journalist with the Thompson Organisation, learning her craft on The Western Mail & Echo in Cardiff.

In the early Seventies, she went to work at the BBC in Plymouth as a freelance researcher and sub-editor – writing and later reporting for the local news programme.

In 1972, she became one of the main presenters of BBC ONE’s early evening current affairs programme, Nationwide, on which she was to work for some 12 years, making her name as a versatile current affairs journalist.

In the Eighties, Lawley presented the Nine O’Clock News and then the Six O’Clock News.

She has also worked on the coverage of Budgets and General Elections for both the BBC and ITV, as well as presenting Question Time, Wogan and her own television chat show, Saturday Matters.

Sue chairs the BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures and is also a board member of the English Tourism Council and the English National Opera.

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