The Culture Secretary has said “it’s about time we had a woman at the helm” of BBC Question Time as long-serving host of the flagship political debate show, David Dimbleby, steps down.
Matt Hancock MP made the remark in response to a question from fellow Conservative MP Vicky Ford in the House of Commons this morning.
She asked: “Will The Secretary of State join me in thanking David Dimbleby for his role 25 years at the helm of Question Time and does he agree that in this year, 100 years of women’s suffrage, this baton should be passed to a woman?”
He replied: “I think the whole house will want to congratulate David Dimbleby on his achievement as he steps down.
“While of course the job must go according to merit, I think it’s about time that we had a woman at the helm of Question Time.”
Dimbleby will depart the weekly programme in December, having first presented it in January 1994 when John Major was still Prime Minister.
With the announcement of his departure a number of names have been touted as his possible replacement, including a number of the BBC’s most high-profile women journalists.
Among them Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark and Emily Maitliss, Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young, Today programme presenter Mishal Husain, broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire and Radio Five Live presenter Emma Barnett.
According to the Mail on Sunday’s diary, the BBC is rumoured to be creating a “new current affairs programme” for Young.
BBC Front Row and Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed has also publicly put her name in the hat for the coveted role in a tweet saying that with 28 years’ experience in broadcast news she was “very well qualified” to present BBC Question Tim and would “like to be seriously considered”.
A BBC source told Press Gazette “everyone thinks it will be a woman” to replace Dimbleby.
Among the BBC men rumoured to be in contention are Today’s Nick Robinson, former political editor at the corporation, Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine, Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil and News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards.
Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville