Jeremy Paxman’s will be big shoes to fill when he leaves Newsnight in June. An incisive, dogged inquisitor with a deadpan sense of humour, Paxman is likely to be missed whoever replaces him as anchor of the BBC2 current affairs flagship.
But replace him they will, and there are some strong contenders – along with a slightly left-field option…
Kuenssberg’s starring role in the BBC’s 2010 General Election coverage prompted journalist David Aaronovitch to coin the term “Kuenssbergovision”. A move from her job as political editor to ITV’s newly-created business editor role also saw her contributing to the channel’s own evening current affairs strand Tonight, as well as co-hosting The News at Ten. Brought back to Newsnight as chief reporter by current editor Ian Katz, Kuenssberg is the bookies’ favourite. Here, she tackles Harriet Harman on her former role on the National Council of Civil Liberties. “It’s a basic question: yes or no?” Remind you of anyone?
Mair has been host of Radio 4’s daily current affairs show PM since 1998 but in recent years has been building a reputation for himself elsewhere around the BBC. Like Paxman, he’s not afraid to ask tough questions no matter who he’s interviewing and wields his subtle comic timing with skill. Filling in for Andrew Marr on his Sunday morning show, Mair asked Boris Johnson “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” As a stand-in host on Newsnight during the McAlpine scandal, which almost took the programme off the air, he told viewers “Obviously we wanted to ask questions of the BBC but no-one was available for interview,” before giving a look to camera that spoke volumes. Mair signed off with the words “Newsnight will be back on Monday. Probably.” Could Mair be back on Newsnight? Permanently?
After two decades with Newsnight, they don’t come more seasoned than Kirsty Wark who has nevertheless shown she can embrace the new, having thrown herself with deadpan gusto into editor Ian Katz’s end-of-show flourishes, including a Halloween dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. If Katz is really keen to stamp his own mark on Newsnight, though, could Wark be the victim of her own longevity?
And finally… Piers Morgan
Currently resting after the cancellation of his CNN show Piers Morgan Live, the former News of the World and Mirror editor has thrown his hat into the ring, tweeting Ian Katz “I’m available.” As an interviewer, Morgan is more used to digging out celebrities’ secrets than undoing politicians, and where Paxman presents University Challenge, Morgan was a judge on Britain’s Got Talent. But what do Morgan’s prospective viewers think?