James Naughtie leaves Today to become a special correspondent for Radio 4

"I’m thrilled to be moving from one dream job to another," the broadcaster said

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James Naughtie is to stand down as a presenter of Today after 21 years at the Radio 4 news and current affairs programme.

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Naughtie – who joined Today in 1994 following the death of Brian Redhead – will take on the role of Special Correspondent for the station as well as being appointed BBC News Books Editor.

Speaking today, Naughtie said: “It was exciting to discover that the BBC and I had the same idea about what I should do next. I’m thrilled to be moving from one dream job to another, and working with the programmes across Radio 4 – including Today – that I love and have known for so long.

“I can’t think of a more invigorating challenge. And after 21 years, I can turn off that 3am alarm at last.”

James Harding, Director of News, added: “Jim brings a range of passions and interests, a host of intelligence and understanding to all that he does on the BBC. As a presenter of Today, he has illuminated the national conversation on politics and world affairs, the arts and culture for more than 20 years.

“I am excited at the prospect of Jim, unleashed, as inquisitor and reporter, critic and twinkling enthusiast across the Radio 4 airwaves for years to come.”

In his new job as special correspondent, Naughtie, 63, will have a responsibility for reporting on any of the UK’s constitutional changes including devolution and independence, parliamentary reform and the changes in the UK’s relations with Europe.

As Books Editor, he will also present a regular book review for the Today programme on a Saturday morning. Naughtie has already been at the helm of Radio 4’s Bookclub since it began in 1998.

On the topic of Naughtie’s change in responsibilities, BBC Director-General Lord Hall commented: “Jim has been the emotional heart of the Today programme for a generation. His persistent and incisive questioning has given millions of listeners a greater understanding of the stories of our time.

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“Above all he’s a writer and reporter at heart – he can bring to life a vivid scene on the radio better than anyone – and I’m delighted that on many of the biggest news stories of 2016 and beyond Jim will continue to be at the heart of our coverage.”