Eddie Mair: ‘Why my accidental exit at the BBC was the perfect ending’

From a Jeremy Paxman interview to a Morecambe and Wise soundtrack, Eddie Mair kept a diary through his final days at Radio 4's PM

Eddie Mair (mag shoot, EH)

I promised you a diary from my last week at PM. Here it is…

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Monday 6th August

While I’m sitting in Broadcasting House, an email arrives from Broadcasting House. The former is a building where I work, the latter is a programme I used to present on Radio 4. The email is from Scott – a fine producer who once toiled on Radio 4’s The Robert Peston Interview Show (with Eddie Mair). Scott was very adept at keeping the peace between Robert and me by constantly telling Robert that he was a much better broadcaster.

This is how the email begins:

“Hi Mr Mair, hope you are well. Would you be interested in reviewing the Sunday papers on Broadcasting House at some stage? With your broadcasting and journalism experience you would be a great addition to our line-up.”

Sarcastic git.

Because some undiscovered Morecambe and Wise has been rediscovered, we close PM with them singing Bring Me Sunshine.

Tuesday 7th August

Another email, this time from BBC Human Resources:

“Good morning Eddie. We have received notification of your resignation and note that your last day of employment will be 10 August 2018.”

It goes on to tell me where to find my P45 – in a recycling bin somewhere on the eighth floor – and further advises that I should follow the BBC tradition of handing back my security badge directly to Lord Hall, kissing him on both cheeks but being careful not to stare directly at the sun.

Wednesday 8th August, 1pm

Lunch with Jeremy Paxman for a Radio Times interview [read it in print next week] at a Viennese café, Fischer’s. I love a schnitzel. Jeremy arrives in shorts and with his dog – Derek. Ideally Derek would have been a schnitzel, but life’s never perfect. As the RT photographers snap away, I ask Jeremy where his tape recorder is. He gives me that look cabinet minsters endured for years and informs me he has a notebook and that’s all.

Shocking! I want to go on the record now, before I’ve seen the article he’s written, that all the so-called quotes have been misremembered and the article is a travesty of journalism. Unless he writes “lovely” – in which case, what an absolute titan of journalism he is.

Wednesday 8th August, 6pm

My third-from-last PM. A listener – Greg – who heard Monday’s Bring Me Sunshine suggests we play the Willie Nelson version, so we play out with that. Just Willie Nelson, then the bongs.

The output editor of PM tonight is the brilliant Eloise Twisk. It’s our last show together as she is off on Thursday and Friday. We look at each other just after our 6pm post-programme meeting and realise: that should really be my last show. It was a perfect ending, suggested by a listener. No fuss or faff, as I had wanted. Why not go out with that? It was not intended to be the last, but it felt just right.

So that’s what we did. Ended it there.


What’s next after PM?

I’m very happy to say Radio Times would like me to keep writing this column. And I will still be appearing in the BBC’s Grenfell Tower Inquiry podcast.

But what’s next for me on the radio is my new gig at LBC. On this page I will chart my rise and fall there.

Whatever happens, I will do my best to bring you sunshine, although I’m no Eric or Ernie. But I’m more than a Willie.


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Eddie Mair’s new show on LBC begins in September