BBC Radio 4’s drivetime programme, PM, is being overhauled in a move that will see occasional presenter Eddie Mair switch from his regular spot on Broadcasting House to front the show permanently.
In what station executives are calling “a significant change” to PM, Mair will become the sole presenter of a new format to commence midNovember, as the double-headed setup is scrapped.
The changes to PM come amid scrutiny of its sibling programme, the flagship Today, in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry. Speculation that it, too, will be overhauled is high within broadcast news quarters.
PM editor Richard Clark denied the changes were related to Today, commenting that Mair’s permanent move to the hour-long programme would give it “greater distinctiveness and personality”. “As presentation is of obvious importance in establishing programme style and authority, PM will be single-headed. Drivetime is one of the most important and competitive slots on radio,” he said.
He added that presenter Carolyn Quinn would front the show at weekends and act as a stand-in for Mair, together with presenter Dan Damon.
A spokesman said that PM’s 10-minute news cycle would change to 15 minutes with the programme’s headlines at 5.15pm and 5.45pm. The lead at 5.30pm will only be same as that at 5pm “on merit only”. “The greater emphasis on live items will mean producers being deployed less on process and more on journalism. The programme has always encouraged dialogue with its audience, and this will continue, with Eddie making use of e-mails and texts,” he added.
Joining the BBC in 1987, Mair presented BBC Scotland’s flagship television and radio news programmes – Reporting Scotland and Good Morning Scotland – between 1989 and 1993. He moved to London in 1994, first to Radio 4’s travel programme Breakaway and then to BBC Five Live to present Midday with Mair.
Mair’s replacement on Broadcasting House is currently being sought.
By Wale Azeez