Al Murray and Benjamin Zephaniah to guest edit Radio 4's Today

The Christmas and New Year line-up also includes Sir Paul Nurse, Dame Ann Leslie and Melinda Gates

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Al Murray and Benjamin Zephaniah to guest edit Radio 4's Today
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David Brown

Comedian Al Murray and poet Benjamin Zephaniah will be among those guest-editing BBC Radio 4's Today programme over the Christmas and New Year period. 

Scientist Sir Paul Nurse, journalist Dame Ann Leslie and businesswoman and philanthropist Melinda Gates have also been unveiled as taking part in the annual tradition. 

Zephaniah, who will celebrate the UK’s range of accents and ask whether poetry has the power to steer young people away from trouble, said: 

“I want to mess around with the Today Programme in a nice way, a positive way. I want to bring new voices to the listeners, I want to bring new listeners to the programme. Most of all I want to impress my mum. She thinks I'm not working hard enough.” 

Al Murray, best-known for his character of the Pub Landlord, commented: "I'm looking forward to guest editing the Today Programme. Even though it means I'll have to get up early and listen to the first hour." 

Nobel prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse will talk to novelist Ian McEwan about how fiction tackles scientific fact and will also take Today presenter John Humphrys on a tour of his laboratory in an attempt to explain why good science deserves good journalism. 

Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, will talk to Warren Buffett about the fine art of philanthropy and will also profile individual women across Africa, Europe and the Americas who she believes are changing the world for the better.

Daily Mail writer Ann Leslie is to explore whether the mobile phone holds the key to women’s emancipation around the world and if faith can survive war reporting. 

Since 2003, Today has handed over the reins to public figures over Christmas and New Year, with past guest editors including Lord Coe and Stewart Lee. 

Today’s editor Ceri Thomas today said: “The guest editors have been responsible for some remarkable radio journalism over the years. They often surprise us with their interests and ideas and this year’s line-up should be no exception. Once again, we have a fascinating group of individuals who will bring their own unique expertise to the programme.”

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