MPs and journalists pay tribute to “titan” John Humphrys after emotional final Today show

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and presenter Robert Davis were among the many to congratulate Humphrys on his 32 years on Radio 4

John Humphrys (next to studio microphones), one of the presenters of the Today radio programme (the news and current affairs programme), which is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (BBC Radio Four) each weekday morning 6-9am and on saturday's 7-9am. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

MPs, journalists and stars of TV and radio have applauded the long career of John Humphrys after the veteran broadcaster presented his final edition of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning.

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With his final edition featuring interviews with former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, the 76-year-old political interviewer closed the show with an emotional thanks to his listeners.

“I am amazed at the loyalty you have shown this programme. You really are the backbone of our country. You care about our democracy,” he said.

“I really do feel like I’ve got to know you over the decades and you’re decent people. I’m more proud than I can say that you have put up with me for so long. Thank you. All of you.”

He finished: “Today matters for tomorrow. If that’s a rather corny way to end my years on the programme then so be it.”

BBC Director-General, Lord Tony Hall, also joined Humphrys in the studio to congratulate the presenter.

“Thank you from all of us: the people that have loved working with you, the people who’ve put up with you at times too,” Hall told him.

“I also want to say that all the stuff you read in the papers about the ‘Rottweiler Humphrys’, you are also someone who handles interviews with people who have been through traumas or disasters – or have something they want to get off their chests but they don’t know how – with amazing sensitivity.”

MPs including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and fellow political journalists from Robert Peston to Evan Davis also took to Twitter to pay tribute to Humphrys’ 32 years on the airwaves.

In a tribute in the Radio Times, Humphrys’ co-presenter Justin Webb said: “There are plenty who don’t like him, who think he’s gone on too long, who want him ‘pensioned off’ or ‘put out of his misery’ or whatever the phrase is they use to suggest that being a man in his 70s on air is somehow an affront.

“Most of these folks would see themselves as impeccable anti-sexists and anti-racists, but ageism is alive and well and apparently deeply acceptable in the anti-John movement.”

Humphrys first joined the Today programme in 1987, and is one of the BBC’s highest-paid stars, having earned between £600,000 and £650,000 in the year to April 2017 for his work on Radio 4 and quiz show Mastermind.

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He agreed to take a substantial pay cut in the wake of the BBC gender pay row and later admitted he was “not happy” about the disparity.