Panorama editor Ceri Thomas is leaving the BBC after 24 years to become director of communications and public affairs at Oxford University.
BBC head of news James Harding said: “There’s no point ducking it: Ceri’s departure is a huge loss to the BBC. He is one of the most impressive journalists I have ever been fortunate enough to work with.
“He is questioning, thoughtful and decent – qualities that have echoed through the programmes he has edited. The BBC has had many exceptional editors of the Today programme, but none could claim to have done a better job than Ceri. And as the editor of Panorama, he has demonstrated the BBC’s mettle in investigative journalism: the programmes on the Panama papers, the police investigation into VIP paedophiles, abuse at Medway, to pick just three, have been examples of the courage and determination at Panorama.
“Ceri joined the BBC in 1991. After working as a producer and a reporter at Today and followed by a stint as the Head of News at BBC Radio 5Live, he became the editor of the Today. He proved to be the longest serving editor in that mighty programme’s august history.
“He then became head of news programmes, before his appointment as the editor of Panorama in 2014. He is the only person I know to have held not one but two of the greatest editorships in British journalism – both Today and Panorama.
“And, across the BBC, he has fostered excellence: he has set high standards for the people he works with, producers, reporters and presenters alike, and all of us are better at what we do for working with him.”
Thomas said: “Every quarter of a century or so, I like to ring the changes. I’ve been at the BBC for 24 years, had more fun than anyone has a right to expect, and been allowed to run what I think are the two most important programmes we make. When I leave I’ll be able to look back and say that I‘ve enjoyed every second and I wouldn’t have missed the whole experience for the world. How many people have that privilege?”