Chris Mason will be BBC's next political editor

Chris Mason will be BBC's next political editor

The BBC’s new political editor Chris Mason only applied for the £260,000-a-year role days ago, it was claimed tonight, as bosses urged him to take up the post amid a series of job offers from rivals.

The corporation announced this afternoon its search for Laura Kuenssberg’s replacement was now over and that proud Yorkshireman Mason would be taking on the position – arguably the biggest brief in political journalism.

The highly regarded host of Radio 4’s debate show Any Questions? quickly became the favourite amid reports that BBC chiefs were unhappy with their initial all-female shortlist, which included ITV News’s Anushka Asthana and Sophy Ridge from Sky.

However, Mason only formally put himself forward for the job a week ago, the Guardian reports, after executives abandoned their original recruitment process at the eleventh hour and quietly reopened the vacancy to applications. 

Amid offers from rival outlets, including the likes of Times Radio which had previously tried to secure his services, the BBC stepped up efforts to keep him, reports suggest.  

The 41-year-old father-of-two, a Cambridge geography candidate married to a primary school teacher who lives in London and has worked at the BBC since 2002, will step down from presenting Any Questions? in the summer – a move which the Sunday Times said could later put him in good stead take over Fiona Bruce on Question Time. 

Regarded as an ‘adept broadcaster’, with ‘sound judgement’ and ‘a flair for political analysis’ by his colleagues, Mason also carved a name out for himself as a presenter of hit podcast Brexitcast, later Newscast, in which he, Kuenssberg, Katya Adler and Adam Fleming talk Westminster gossip.

He now joins the exclusive fraternity of BBC Political Editors – a position first created by the broadcaster in the early 1970s – which includes John Simpson, Nick Robinson, Andrew Marr, Robin Oakley, David Holmes, Hardiman Scott and David Holmes. His promotion today also makes Mason the Corporation’s first ever northern Political Editor.

Mason has talked openly about his Yorkshire accent, which he believes has given him a competitive advantage in broadcasting in an age where the BBC has come under fire for being too ‘London-centric’ and not having enough regional voices. 

In an interview with Radio Times about his promotion to Any Questions?, Mason said: ‘I think it’s probably been an advantage to me because I have come of age journalistically in an era where there’s a far greater awareness that the BBC in particular, and broadcasting in general, needs to sound like the audience it’s broadcasting to.’ 

Mason’s promotion is also likely a PR coup for the BBC, which has been beset by a so-called ‘brain drain’ of top talent including Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis, Andrew Marr and Dan Walker ditching the broadcaster – a characterisation it has dismissed. 

Mason, who currently earns less than £150,000, is likely to see his pay shoot up considerably to around £260,000, Kuenssberg’s salary according to a BBC report. 

Kuenssberg, who has been accused of political bias by both Labour-supporting trolls and Tory operatives, revealed she was stepping down as Political Editor last year, with her final assignment at the BBC set to be the local elections coverage next month. 

She was last month announced as the new permanent presenter of the BBC’s Sunday morning politics show, replacing Andrew Marr. 

In a statement, Mason said: ‘What a tremendous privilege to take on what, for me, is the most extraordinary job in British broadcasting and journalism. I clamber upon the shoulders of giants like Laura, Nick and Andrew with a smattering of trepidation and a shedload of excitement and enthusiasm.

‘To lead the best team of journalists in the business on the best news patch of the lot is something I’d never even dared dream of. I can’t wait to get started.’

The BBC's hunt for Laura Kuenssberg's replacement has ended, after bosses announced that Radio 4 presenter Chris Mason will take up the £260,000 post of Political Editor next month

The BBC’s hunt for Laura Kuenssberg’s replacement has ended, after bosses announced that Radio 4 presenter Chris Mason will take up the £260,000 post of Political Editor next month 

Regarded as an 'adept broadcaster', with 'sound judgement' and 'a flair for political analysis' by his colleagues, Mason, who now earns less than £150,000, would see his pay rise shoot up to at least £260,000, Kuenssberg's reported salary

Regarded as an ‘adept broadcaster’, with ‘sound judgement’ and ‘a flair for political analysis’ by his colleagues, Mason, who now earns less than £150,000, would see his pay rise shoot up to at least £260,000, Kuenssberg’s reported salary

Mason, who studied geography at Cambridge, took over Radio 4's Any Questions? show, a topical discussion with a panel of people from politics and media who are posed questions by the public, in October 2019. After spending two decades at the BBC, Mason, who is from Grassington in north Yorkshire, has spent most of his career covering Westminster (pictured amidst an anti-Brexit pro-Europe demonstration)

Mason, who studied geography at Cambridge, took over Radio 4’s Any Questions? show, a topical discussion with a panel of people from politics and media who are posed questions by the public, in October 2019. After spending two decades at the BBC, Mason, who is from Grassington in north Yorkshire, has spent most of his career covering Westminster (pictured amidst an anti-Brexit pro-Europe demonstration)

Kuenssberg, a titan in the world of political journalism who was accused of Left-wing bias by the Conservative Party, revealed she was stepping down as Political Editor in Autumn last year, with her final assignment at the BBC set to be the local elections coverage next month

Kuenssberg, a titan in the world of political journalism who was accused of Left-wing bias by the Conservative Party, revealed she was stepping down as Political Editor in Autumn last year, with her final assignment at the BBC set to be the local elections coverage next month 

Chris Mason will be BBC's next political editor

Kuenssberg tweeted her congratulations, writing: 'Huge congrats and welcome to the best daily job in the business, to colleague, great friend and of course #newscaster @ChrisMasonBBC'

Kuenssberg tweeted her congratulations, writing: ‘Huge congrats and welcome to the best daily job in the business, to colleague, great friend and of course #newscaster @ChrisMasonBBC’

Yorkshire-born Mason, the current host of debate show Any Questions? on Radio 4, was tipped to be the favourite following reports that Corporation chiefs were unhappy with the all-female shortlist, which included ITV News's Anushka Asthana and Sophy Ridge from Sky

Yorkshire-born Mason, the current host of debate show Any Questions? on Radio 4, was tipped to be the favourite following reports that Corporation chiefs were unhappy with the all-female shortlist, which included ITV News's Anushka Asthana and Sophy Ridge from Sky

Yorkshire-born Mason, the current host of debate show Any Questions? on Radio 4, was tipped to be the favourite following reports that Corporation chiefs were unhappy with the all-female shortlist, which included ITV News’s Anushka Asthana and Sophy Ridge from Sky 

Yorkshire-born Cambridge geography graduate who ascended ranks of BBC to Radio 4 Any Questions? presenter… and has now taken on the biggest brief in political journalism 

As Laura Kuenssberg's replacement as the BBC's Political Editor, Chris Mason has arguably taken on the biggest brief of his life

As Laura Kuenssberg’s replacement as the BBC’s Political Editor, Chris Mason has arguably taken on the biggest brief of his life

Viewers have previously praised him for his no-nonsense style

Viewers have previously praised him for his no-nonsense style

As Laura Kuenssberg’s replacement as the BBC’s Political Editor, Chris Mason has arguably taken on the biggest brief of his life.

Mason began his journalism career as a trainee at ITN the week after 9/11, before moving to BBC Radio Newcastle one year later. He also then worked for 5 Live, the Regional Political Unit, the Westminster Hour on Radio 4 and in Brussels as a Europe correspondent. 

Mason took over as presenter for Radio 4’s Any Questions?, a topical discussion with a panel of people from politics and media who are posed questions by the public, in October 2019, and is regularly on the podcast Newscast. 

After spending two decades at the BBC, Mason, who is from Grassington in north Yorkshire, has spent most of his career covering Westminster.

Viewers have previously praised him for his no-nonsense style, and hailed him as ‘refreshing’ when he admitted during a live broadcast for BBC Breakfast in 2018 that he didn’t ‘have the foggiest’ about ongoing Brexit talks – adding: ‘I think you might as well get Mr Blobby back on to offer his analysis, because frankly I suspect his is now as good as mine.’ 

Then the BBC’s Political Correspondent, Mason said: ‘So, where are we in this Brexit process? You know what? People like me are paid to have insight and foresight and hindsight about these things, and to be able to project where we’re going to go.

Mason began his journalism career as a trainee at ITN the week after 9/11, before moving to BBC Radio Newcastle one year later

Mason began his journalism career as a trainee at ITN the week after 9/11, before moving to BBC Radio Newcastle one year later

‘To be quite honest, looking at things right now, I haven’t got the foggiest idea what is going to happen in the coming weeks. Is the Prime Minister going to get a deal with the EU? Dunno. Is she going to get it through the Commons? Don’t know about that either.

‘I think you might as well get Mr Blobby back on to offer his analysis, because frankly I suspect his is now as good as mine.’

Growing up in the Yorkshire Dales, Mason has previously spoken about how they had a ‘massive influence’ on him, giving him a sense of ‘belonging and identity’.

This year he competed on Celebrity Mastermind where his specialist subject was the Yorkshire Dales, finishing second to comedian Rufus Hound.

He told BBC Radio 4: ‘I still subscribe to the local paper, the Craven Herald and Pioneer. It drops proudly onto my doormat in south east London every week. It’s the perfect thing to kick back with, in the company of a cuppa, when I get home after Any Questions at the weekend.’ 

Mason has previously said that apart from a ‘brief flirtation’ with wanting to be a bus driver, he ‘only ever wanted to be a reporter’. 

Speaking with a Yorkshire accent, Mason’s appointment could combat criticisms of the broadcaster for being London-centric and not having enough regional voices.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries previously instructed the BBC to present plans to improve regional and class diversity in the corporation before agreeing the new licence fee settlement.

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Kuenssberg tweeted her congratulations, writing: ‘Huge congrats and welcome to the best daily job in the business, to colleague, great friend and of course #newscaster @ChrisMasonBBC’. 

The interim director of BBC News, Jonathan Munro, said: ‘Chris has been an exceptional correspondent in an extraordinary time for British politics. His calm, incisive analysis and signature candid style have been invaluable for audiences when navigating complex stories.

‘His ambition and vision for the political editor role is really exciting and I wish him every success in the new post.’  

Beth Rigby, Sky News’s political editor and presenter, was also among those congratulation Chris Mason on his appointment as her counterpart at BBC News.

She tweeted: ‘What a great choice. Huge congratulations @ChrisMasonBBC and welcome to the Pol Ed role – the best and busiest beat in the business. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of you Chris!’. 

Paul Brand, UK editor for ITV News, also congratulated Mason on his new role. He tweeted: ‘Huge congratulations to one of the best in British broadcasting – Chris will be an absolute asset to the BBC in this role.’

Mason began his journalism career as a trainee at ITN the week after 9/11, before moving to BBC Radio Newcastle one year later. He also then worked for 5 Live, the Regional Political Unit, the Westminster Hour on Radio 4 and in Brussels as a Europe correspondent. 

Mason took over as presenter for Radio 4’s Any Questions?, a topical discussion with a panel of people from politics and media who are posed questions by the public, in October 2019, and is regularly on the podcast Newscast. 

After spending two decades at the BBC, Mason, who is from Grassington in north Yorkshire, has spent most of his career covering Westminster.

Viewers have previously praised him for his no-nonsense style, and hailed him as ‘refreshing’ when he admitted during a live broadcast for BBC Breakfast in 2018 that he didn’t ‘have the foggiest’ about ongoing Brexit talks – adding: ‘I think you might as well get Mr Blobby back on to offer his analysis, because frankly I suspect his is now as good as mine.’ 

Then the BBC’s Political Correspondent, Mason said: ‘So, where are we in this Brexit process? You know what? People like me are paid to have insight and foresight and hindsight about these things, and to be able to project where we’re going to go.

‘To be quite honest, looking at things right now, I haven’t got the foggiest idea what is going to happen in the coming weeks. Is the Prime Minister going to get a deal with the EU? Dunno. Is she going to get it through the Commons? Don’t know about that either.

‘I think you might as well get Mr Blobby back on to offer his analysis, because frankly I suspect his is now as good as mine.’

Growing up in the Yorkshire Dales, Mason has previously spoken about how they had a ‘massive influence’ on him, giving him a sense of ‘belonging and identity’. 

This year he competed on Celebrity Mastermind where his specialist subject was the Yorkshire Dales, finishing second to comedian Rufus Hound.

He told BBC Radio 4: ‘I still subscribe to the local paper, the Craven Herald and Pioneer. It drops proudly onto my doormat in south east London every week. It’s the perfect thing to kick back with, in the company of a cuppa, when I get home after Any Questions at the weekend.’ 

Mason has previously said that apart from a ‘brief flirtation’ with wanting to be a bus driver, he ‘only ever wanted to be a reporter’. 

Initially the Corporation appealed for internal candidates, but then the three BBC front-runners – the deputy political editor, Vicki Young, Mason and former North America editor Sopel – made it clear that they did not want the job.

They then extended the search, whittling down to an all-female shortlist of applicants including ITV News’s Anushka Asthana, the deputy political editor, and Sophy Ridge from Sky.

As well as being deputy political editor of ITV News, Asthana, 41, a former Guardian journalist, stars on its political show, Peston.

The former chief political correspondent at The Times attended £12,600-a-year Manchester High School for Girls before going on to read economics at St John’s College, Cambridge. She spent two years working for Sky News as a political correspondent.

State-educated Sophy Ridge went to Tiffin Girls’ School in South West London before getting a degree in English Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. Prior to getting her own show in 2017, she was a Sky News political reporter, during which time she revealed Ed Miliband’s resignation as Labour leader following the General Election in 2015.

Ridge, 38, who has been at Sky News for more than a decade, has recently returned from maternity leave. Sky staff say she would be a ‘huge loss’ if she joined the BBC.

It comes at a difficult time for the BBC, which has been battling a ‘brain drain’ of talent – allegations it has denied – and a war with the Government over its licence fee.

In January, Boris Johnson’s ‘most loyal Cabinet ally’ Nadine Dorries signalled that the licence fee will be scrapped after 2027. The gung-ho Culture Secretary indicated that she wants to put in place a new funding model for the broadcaster when the current licence fee deal expires in five years’ time.

The Cabinet minister has hit the Corporation with a two-year licence fee freeze and her allies have warned ‘the days of state-run television are over’, as tensions between the Government and the BBC continue to rise. 

Dorries tweeted: ‘This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.’ 

Tense negotiations between the Government and the BBC over the cost of the annual fee until the end of 2027 have concluded, with Dorries deciding to hold the licence at £159 for the next two years.

Officials calculate that – due to inflation currently running at 5.1 per cent – the Corporation will have to find savings of more than £2billion over the next six years.

After spending two decades at the BBC, Mason, who is from Grassington in north Yorkshire, has spent most of his career covering Westminster

After spending two decades at the BBC, Mason, who is from Grassington in north Yorkshire, has spent most of his career covering Westminster

Speaking with a Yorkshire accent, Mason's appointment could combat criticisms of the broadcaster for being London-centric and not having enough regional voices

Speaking with a Yorkshire accent, Mason's appointment could combat criticisms of the broadcaster for being London-centric and not having enough regional voices

Speaking with a Yorkshire accent, Mason’s appointment could combat criticisms of the broadcaster for being London-centric and not having enough regional voices 

Who had been the female frontrunners to replace Kuenssberg?

Sophy Ridge

Current job: Political correspondent at Sky News and host of its flagship programme Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Profile: Ridge worked as a journalist at News of the World before joining Sky News. Prior to getting her own show in 2017, she was a Sky News political reporter, during which time she revealed Ed Miliband’s resignation as Labour leader following the General Election in 2015.

The 37-year-old has been at Sky News for more than a decade, and has recently returned from maternity leave.

State-educated Sophy Ridge went to Tiffin Girls' School in South West London before getting a degree in English Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford

State-educated Sophy Ridge went to Tiffin Girls’ School in South West London before getting a degree in English Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford 

Anushka Asthana

Current job: ITV News’s deputy political editor

Profile: As well as being deputy political editor of ITV News, Asthana, 41, is a former Guardian journalist, and stars on its political show, Peston.

She is a former chief political correspondent at The Times and spent two years working for Sky News as a political correspondent.

As well as being deputy political editor of ITV News, Asthana, 41, a former Guardian journalist, stars on its political show, Peston

As well as being deputy political editor of ITV News, Asthana, 41, a former Guardian journalist, stars on its political show, Peston

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However, the Culture Secretary is also considering pegging future fee increases below inflation between 2024 and the end of the current Royal Charter on December 31, 2027 – meaning the savings the BBC must make could end up being even higher. 

It was previously suggested said that Kuenssberg, who earned £260,000, could become a presenter on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme as part of a major reshuffle of senior on-air staff. However, it was later confirmed that she will be replacing Marr on his Sunday morning politics show.

Marr presented the last episode of his long-running Sunday politics programme yesterday, leaving the BBC after 21 years to host radio shows on LBC and Classic FM, for rival broadcaster Global.

Commanding a salary of more than £260,000 as political editor, Kuenssberg also found a new audience by appearing on the Brexitcast podcast throughout the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU.

However, she has faced accusations of bias from across the political spectrum. Last year, she was criticised after appearing to defend Dominic Cummings following reports that he had flouted lockdown rules.

Within 30 minutes of the story breaking, Kuenssberg had shared a rebuttal from an unnamed source claiming that the then Prime Minister’s senior aide’s 260-mile trip from London to his parents’ home in Durham was ‘within [the] guidelines’.

In response to the Daily Mirror journalist who broke the story, Kuenssberg tweeted: ‘Source says his trip was within guidelines as Cummings went to stay with his parents so they could help with childcare while he and his wife were ill – they insist no breach of lockdown’.

Her reply was immediately met by a chorus of condemnation from Labour-supporting trolls, with some accusing her of being a ‘mouthpiece for the Government’ and a ‘Tory stooge’. 

Kuenssberg was revealed to be Cummings’s only regular contact, due to the broadcaster’s ‘special position’ in the country. 

During his bombshell evidence session to MPs last year, the former Downing Street aide said the political editor was the ‘main’ journalist he would speak to – but stressed they would only talk once every ‘three or four weeks’ to ‘give guidance on big stories’.  

Cummings then made a series of scathing claims about the Prime Minister’s handling of the Covid pandemic – including that Johnson allegedly viewed the virus as a ‘scare story’ just a month before the first lockdown – in a sit-down interview with Kuenssberg.

During the 2019 General Election, Kuenssberg, along with ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, tweeted the false claim that an aide of disgraced ex-minister Matt Hancock was punched by a Labour activist.

The claim was quickly disproved by video evidence, forcing them to back down and apologise for the misleading information.

At the Labour Party conference in 2017, she had to be protected by security guards following abuse she had received for her reporting on Jeremy Corbyn. Critics claimed she was not neutral and treated the former Labour leader unfairly.

Kuenssberg also attracted controversy earlier this year after a complaint was made against her over her use of the phrase ‘nitty gritty’ while discussing Downing Street business on the Brexitcast.

Anti-racism campaigners claim the term originates from the slave trade, and was reportedly banned by Sky Sports last year amid concerns.

However, programme bosses threw out the complaint against Kuenssberg.

Prior to becoming the BBC’s politics editor, Kuenssberg served as the corporation’s chief political correspondent. She also previously held senior roles at ITV News and BBC Two’s Newsnight.

In 2016, Kuenssberg was awarded Broadcaster of the Year by the Political Studies Association, recognising her work covering the Brexit Referendum and subsequent follow-up stories.

She was also honoured as the Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards the same year.

…and where has Laura Kuenssberg ended up? 

Kuenssberg is taking over as permanent presenter of the BBC’s Sunday morning politics show from September. 

Kuenssberg will start her role when the show relaunches this September with a new set, title, format and title music.

She will take over from Sophie Raworth, who has been presenting the show, currently titled Sunday Morning, since January, following the departure of Andrew Marr.

Laura Kuennsberg

Andrew Marr

Kuennsberg’s new role could see the broadcaster land a £76,000 pay rise to bring her in line with Marr who was paid £340,000 before he left to join LBC

The new role could see Kuenssberg paid £340,000 a year – a £76,000 pay rise – to bring her in line with Marr. According to the corporation’s most recent annual report, Kuenssberg earned between £260,000 and £264,999 as political editor. 

Interim director of BBC News Jonathan Munro said: ‘Laura’s the perfect host for our flagship weekend politics show – she’s an engaging presenter and a razor-sharp political interviewer, and she knows exactly which questions audiences want answered.’

BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore added: ‘Laura’s one of the BBC’s biggest talents and I’m delighted she’s becoming the new face of Sunday mornings.

‘I’m very much looking forward to seeing how she makes the show her own.’

Having taken over from Nick Robinson in 2015, Kuenssberg became the first woman to hold the BBC political editor role and covered a feverish period of politics including the Brexit referendum, two general elections and the Covid pandemic. 

Having taken over from Nick Robinson in 2015, Kuenssberg became the first woman to hold the BBC political editor role and covered a feverish period of politics including the Brexit referendum, two general elections and the Covid pandemic

Having taken over from Nick Robinson in 2015, Kuenssberg became the first woman to hold the BBC political editor role and covered a feverish period of politics including the Brexit referendum, two general elections and the Covid pandemic 

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‘People come, people go’: BBC dismisses ‘brain drain’ of top talent as Dan Walker joins Emily Maitlis, Andrew Marr, Jon Sopel and Louise Minchin in ditching the broadcaster for its rivals

The BBC has dismissed the ‘brain drain’ of top talent ditching the broadcaster as ‘people come, people go’ after Dan Walker became the latest to join a rival firm.

Insiders said there was always a ‘natural point where people move on’ but there are mounting fears the Corporation will be left with a lack of experienced presenters.

Walker announced he was joining Channel 5 to be lead anchor on its revamped 5News team.

He will walk away from his £295,000-295,999 a year role at the Beeb, with industry experts suggesting he will make around £350,000 in his new job.

The Breakfast presenter follows a string of huge names – including Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis and Andrew Marr – which has sparked fears of an escalating exodus of talent.

His former Breakfast co-star Louise Minchin also left last year as she looked to spent more quality time with her family.

Walker (pictured outside the BBC in Salford today) announced yesterday he was joining Channel 5 to be lead anchor on its revamped 5News team

Walker (pictured outside the BBC in Salford today) announced yesterday he was joining Channel 5 to be lead anchor on its revamped 5News team

Walker (pictured outside the BBC in Salford today) announced yesterday he was joining Channel 5 to be lead anchor on its revamped 5News team

Dan Walker is the latest on-air star to ditch the BBC as he announced he was joining Channel 5 News. He is pictured on BBC Breakfast

Dan Walker is the latest on-air star to ditch the BBC as he announced he was joining Channel 5 News. He is pictured on BBC Breakfast

Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije

Sian Williams

Walker will be joining Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije (left) and replacing Sian Williams (right)

BBC veterans Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel left the BBC for Global, the owners of LBC, to front a new show and a podcast

BBC veterans Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel left the BBC for Global, the owners of LBC, to front a new show and a podcast

The minister’s son who doesn’t work Sundays … who is Dan Walker?

Dan Walker is the son of a minister and was born in Crawley, Sussex.

He was educated in the town before heading north to Sheffield, where he got a BA in history and MA in journalism from the university.

His news career started at Hallam FM in the Steel City before he moved to Manchester’s Key 103 radio.

But he dipped his toe in TV with Grenada then North West Tonight at the BBC.

He was also able to keep his love of sport alive, covering Football Focus from 2009, as well as multi football tournaments and other sports.

But he became a household name for many when he joined Breakfast in 2016, taking over from Bill Turnbull.

He had cohosted it with Louise Minchin from Monday to Wednesday until last year when she stepped down.

Walker is married to Sarah, who he met at university and with whom he has three children.

He is a practising Christian and does not work on Sundays.

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A BBC source told MailOnline: ‘People come, people go, but we have lots of existing talent and new and emerging stars and there is always a natural point where people move on.’

Walker revealed on Monday he was leaving the Corporation after six years to be lead anchor at 5News.

The 45-year-old said he ‘can’t wait to get stuck into the daily news show’, adding ‘I love their ideas and creativity’.

The journalist shared a video on Twitter announcing the news on Monday afternoon, saying: ‘I have a little bit of news for you.

‘In the next few weeks I’m going to be leaving BBC Breakfast and moving to 5News and to Channel 5.

‘I’m really excited but this has also been a massive decision for me because I love BBC Breakfast. I love working alongside Sally and I love the team there.

‘But Channel 5 came with big ambitions, with big plans and I don’t think opportunities like this come around very often and I can’t wait.

‘I’ve also had the incredible privilege of working on some iconic programmes over the last few years, both at the BBC and elsewhere.

‘What I love about this deal is I not only get to present the news but also host a whole range of new programmes right across the channel.

‘And what an honour to step into the shoes of Sian Williams. I know how popular she is with both the team and the audience.

He said: ‘All I can say is I will do my very best to maintain her incredibly high standards.’

Walker added in a statement: ‘I can’t wait to get stuck into the daily news show, but I am also excited about making some great new TV for Channel 5.

‘I love their ideas and creativity and it’s rare to get an opportunity like this where paths and ambitions meet. The chance to do something different was too good to turn down.’

Outgoing Williams also sent a ‘warm welcome’ to the presenter, but it was posted on Twitter in horrendous quality and the voice of the producer could be heard.

She said: ‘Dan Walker, welcome to your new home. I know what it’s like to move from the BBC Breakfast sofa to the Channel 5 newsroom.’

She added: ‘I absolutely loved it and I think you will too. Have fun and good luck.’

The Breakfast presenter revealed on Monday he was leaving the Corporation after six years to be the ITN channel's lead anchor. He is pictured with Nadiya Bychkova at a fundraiser last month

The Breakfast presenter revealed on Monday he was leaving the Corporation after six years to be the ITN channel’s lead anchor. He is pictured with Nadiya Bychkova at a fundraiser last month

Walker is married to Sarah, who he met at university and with whom he has three children. He is a practising Christian and does not work on Sundays

Walker is married to Sarah, who he met at university and with whom he has three children. He is a practising Christian and does not work on Sundays

Walker lost ratings battle to Piers Morgan and was forced to apologise to Susanna over article he ‘misread’

Dan Walker mostly kept himself away from the headlines during his time at the BBC.

But his war of words with his golfing buddy Piers Morgan over TV ratings saw him grab the attention of viewers.

The pair often bickered on social media over the number of views GMB and Breakfast got, with the latter mostly winning.

Yet the ITV programme steadily caught up with them during Morgan’s tenure as his lively debates saw more and more tune in and ditch the BBC.

On his last day at the show, where he rowed with the weatherman Alex Beresford over Meghan Markle, GMB beat the BBC in the ratings.

Meanwhile Walker was also in hot water over a tweet he posted about Morgan’s then co-host Susanna Reid.

He issued a public apology to his Good Morning Britain rival for calling her out on Twitter over an article he had ‘misread.’

The broadcaster in 2019 admitted he had ‘misread’ her ‘intentions’ after the anchor penned an opinion piece for her Daily Mail column about ‘catty male colleagues’ in the television industry.

Susanna wrote: ‘In my experience, there is more rivalry between male counterparts. Take ITV’s Piers Morgan and Dan Walker, his BBC Breakfast double.

‘The way they snipe at each other on Twitter makes me shudder. I would never speak about a colleague like that.’

Walker lashed out, writing: ‘Interesting. With the greatest respect @susannareid100 the insults that make you ‘shudder’ only really come one way.

‘I enjoy the friendly competition with your programme. It keeps us all on our toes and normally stays within the bounds of gentle fun. See you soon.’

He added: ‘I humbly suggest you talk to @louiseminchin @BBCNaga @stephbreakfast @carolkirkwood @mikebreakfast @sallynugent – or anyone I work with – before suggesting I ever put colleagues down or am not supportive.’

Reid wrote back: ‘I didn’t for a moment suggest this. My reference to you was solely in relation to how you and Piers speak to each other online.’

Walker replied ‘I greatly respect @susannareid100 & it appears I may have misread her intentions in this article & for that I apologise – as I have done privately too.

‘Support of colleagues is a particularly sensitive issues at the moment and 1 I take seriously. I hope you all have a lovely day.’ 

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Williams will step down from 5News – where she has been since 2016 – but will stay with the channel for other shows.

Walker will be the face of the revamped 5pm current affairs programme alongside Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije.

But he will also have scope to cover non-news programmes for the channel, which he also did for the BBC with shows such as Football Focus.

Media experts estimated he would rake in £350,000 a year, with a ‘golden handshake’ signing on cheque for £50,000.

One told MailOnline: ‘Let’s be honest, Channel 5 are not a channel you go to if you are still climbing your profession are they?

‘I think my TV still has problems tuning into the station.

‘They would have offered him a golden handshake, £50,000 upon signing the contract.

‘£350,000 a year, decent pension contributions. He knows he will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond now – may seem attractive too?’

Walker is the son of a minister and was born in Crawley, Sussex. He is a practising Christian so does not work on Sundays.

He was educated in the town before heading north to Sheffield, where he got a BA in history and MA in journalism from the university.

His news career started at Hallam FM in the Steel City before he moved to Manchester’s Key 103 radio.

But he first dipped his toe in television with Grenada then North West Tonight at the BBC.

He was also able to keep his love of sport alive, covering Football Focus from 2009, as well as multi football tournaments and other sports.

But he became a household name for many when he joined Breakfast in 2016, taking over from Bill Turnbull.

He had co-hosted it with Louise Minchin from Monday to Wednesday until last year when she stepped down.

Walker is married to Sarah, who he met at university and with whom he has three children.

Editor of 5 News Cait FitzSimons said: ‘I’m hugely excited about Dan’s decision to join 5 News.

‘We pride ourselves on the deep connection we have with our viewers across the country, and this is a key strength of Dan’s, helping secure his place as one of Britain’s best and most popular broadcasters.

‘I look forward to working with him to build on the success of our new hour-long programme and finding more ways to tell stories that touch viewers’ lives across the nation.’

Daniel Pearl, Commissioning Editor, Unscripted, at Channel 5, said: ‘We’re delighted that Dan Walker is joining the fantastic team at 5 News, as an anchor he will be instrumental in the success of Channel 5’s News output as it continues to grow and evolve.’

Director of Content for Paramount UK Ben Frow added: ‘Dan Walker joining the Channel shows that Channel 5 attracts leading talent.

‘Dan is a renowned broadcaster and we’re looking forward to seeing him not just fronting 5 News but bringing his experience to programming across Channel 5 as we continue to develop and grow our output.’

It is the latest in the rapid ‘brain drain’ from the BBC as a string of on-air talent has left for its rivals.

Maitlis, Sopel and Marr jumped ship for LBC in a golden handcuffs deal expected to earn them huge pay rises.

The journalists caused disarray at Broadcasting House after deciding to join Global, which is also home to Nick Ferrari, Shelagh Fogarty and James O’Brien.

Maitlis, who hosted Newsnight, had a series of impartiality complaints against her because of her tweets and on-air comments about the pandemic.

Marr is said to have admitted he was prompted to leave the BBC because of his desire to speak freely on major issues, including climate change and politics.

Leading presenters Andrew Neil and Simon McCoy have also left the BBC in the past year.

The deal, for a new show and podcast, is likely to lead to a salary uplift for Sopel and Maitlis, who earn at least £235,000 and £325,000 respectively at the BBC.

An LBC insider told MailOnline Maitlis will now be on ‘at least’ £400,000-a-year, with Mr Sopel likely to be through the £300,000-a-year barrier.

But they warned it ‘could be more’ because of the number of projects they will work on together.

Leaving the BBC will also allow them to pursue more cash from speaking events and private functions worth another £50,000 annually.

Another insider said: ‘I think it’s the potent appeal of money and freedom to be more expressive in their personal views than the BBC allows’.

The deal will see them front a major new podcast for Global Player, as well as hosting a show together on LBC and providing commentary and analysis for lbc.co.uk.

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