BBC Brexitcast co-host Chris Mason will take over as host of Radio 4 political debate programme Any Questions?
Mason said he was “beyond excited” to succeed Jonathan Dimbleby, who hosted the weekly programme for 32 years until he stepped down in June.
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“Fine political journalist who inhabits the Westminster bubble but has feet firmly planted outside,” he said. “Tough, clever and witty. Listeners will relish him as much as he’ll relish the role.”
Mason is one of the four hosts of the BBC’s Brexit podcast, which recently moved to TV to replace This Week in the Thursday late-night slot.
He regularly appears on BBC News and Radio 4 and has previously stepped in to present BBC Breakfast and Politics Live.
He said: “To be taking over from someone called Dimbleby of the broadcasting dynasty is pinch yourself stuff. There isn’t a better point in my lifetime to take on this role.
“I believe passionately it’s the job of the BBC to scrutinise, allow audiences to ask questions of politicians and to have serious but informal conversations so that those in power can be seen in three dimensions.”
Any Questions? features debate from media, political and business figures as they answer topical questions from audiences in a different town each week.
Mason said: “On a discussion programme like Any Questions? audiences and listeners can understand not just what someone thinks but why they think that way. That isn’t always possible in other places but it’s vital in today’s battle of ideas.
“It aids political conversation and informs what we all understand about what’s happening in the UK and around the world.”
Radio 4 controller Mohit Bakaya, who took the station’s top job in August, said the Any Questions? job had been sought after by a “number of brilliant broadcasters that I have the highest regard for”.
He said of Mason: “Chris is a first class political correspondent and, for some years now, his ability to interpret and explain the complexities of what’s happening in our fast changing political landscape has made him one of our most trusted and insightful journalists.
“He approaches Westminster with the eye of an ‘outsider’ which makes him well placed to connect with audiences around the country.
“As we face another period of political uncertainty, Any Questions? and its role in giving people the chance to ask questions of our politicians is as vital as ever.”
Last year Mason was seen as a contender to host Radio 4 current affairs programme PM after Eddie Mair’s departure for commercial radio station LBC. The post was eventually taken up by Newsnight’s Evan Davis.
A number of Mason’s Brexitcast colleagues have congratulated him on Twitter today, including editor Dino Sofos who said: “It’s about time a Yorkshireman presented a Radio 4 politics programme.”
Non-BBC radio figures were also complimentary, including Iain Dale who said Mason would be “brilliant”, and Talkradio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer who said he was “a brilliant journalist and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet too”.
He broadcasts his first Any Questions? episode on Friday, 18 October.