Evan Davies is to leave Radio 4’s Today programme to replace Jeremy Paxman as the lead presenter on Newsnight, the BBC has announced.
Speaking at today’s publication of the Corporation’s annual report, director general Tony Hall said that Davis would take over from Paxman – who stepped down in June after 25 years on the programme – but did not specify when.
Thanking Paxman for his years of service to the BBC and for “making lives of politicians difficult” Hall praised his successor.
He said: “[Evan Davis] is an outstanding journalist and will do an outstanding job on Newsnight.”
Davis admitted he would be sad to leave Today but said the Newsnight role was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I can’t deny that I feel terribly sad to be leaving the Today programme,” said Davis. “I have been there for over six years and those have been some of the most satisfying of my career. That programme is put together by remarkably few people, and I can’t praise them highly enough for their professionalism and companionship.
“But at the same time, how could I turn down the offer of this role on Newsnight, treading in the footsteps of some of the best television presenters in the business? While it is a scary prospect, it will be an adventure and a challenge, and I hope the viewers will be happy with the result.”
Newsnight editor Ian Katz said: “Evan brings a rare combination of curiosity, intelligence and mischief to his broadcasting – just the qualities I want Newsnight to be known for. I’ve admired him from afar as a listener and viewer for years and I’m thrilled that he’s joining us to help reinvent the show where he made his name in the 90s.”
Davis took over from Peter Jay as economics editor at the BBC in 2001. He left the post in 2008 to work on Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Today, alongside John Humphrys. He also presents business conversation show The Bottom Line on Radio 4 as well as fronting venture capitalist show Dragons’ Den on BBC2.
The appointment will come as surprise to many – Davis’s name was rarely linked with role, while among those thought to be in the running were BBC economics editor Robert Peston and Eddie Mair, the sometime Newsnight presenter and host of Radio 4’s PM show. Current Newsnight host Laura Kuenssberg was also tipped to step up to the lead role.