Experienced women lead the race for the Question Time job

Emily Maitlis, Kirsty Wark and ITV’s Julie Etchingham are all thought to be in the frame to replace David Dimbleby reveals Ben Dowell

The General Election on ITV

 Thursday May 18th 2017 on ITV 

Tom Bradby, Julie Etchingham and Robert Peston will lead ITV's General Election coverage in a series of programmes in the run up to election day, throughout the night after the polls close, and into June 9th.
Anchored by Tom Bradby or Julie Etchingham, ITV News at Ten will be extended by 10 minutes each weekday from May 8th and ITVÕs Peston on Sunday will have a series extension, with programmes through to June 25th.
Presented by Julie Etchingham, ITV will broadcast primetime half-hour Tonight programmes ahead of the election. These Tonight Election Specials - starting with Tim Farron on May 8th, followed by further films featuring interviews with Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Paul Nuttall, as well as Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Caroline Lucas - will focus on the leaders covering their lives, interests, policies and their vision for the future.

ITV has broadcast major LeadersÕ Debate programmes during the past two General Elections, making broadcasting history in 2010 with the first TV debate, and airing the only seven party LeadersÕ Debate in 2015. Both debates were respectively the highest rating current affairs programmes in the years they were broadcast. The 2015 ITV LeadersÕ Debate attracted a peak audience of 7.4 million (a 33% share of viewing), and averaged 7 million viewers (a 31% share of viewing) across the programme.
The largest academic study on the 2015 debates* found that they had reached sections of the population least likely to be touched by the rest of the campaign - including younger and first time voters.
ITV will again broadcast a major debate programme in 2017, inviting the leaders of the seven parties that were represented in the 2015 ITV LeadersÕ Debate Ð the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.
The ITV LeadersÕ Debate will air on Thursday May 18th at 8pm, and will be moderated by ITV News anchor Julie Etchingham.  As in the previous two General Election debates, leaders will have the opportunity to make short opening statements at the beginning of the programme and closing statements at the conclusion of the debate. During the live debate, the leaders will have the opportunity to each in turn answer questions that are asked direct by members of the studio audience, before the floor is opened up to a period of free flowing debate.

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The new host of Question Time is likely to be an experienced woman according to sources close to the recruitment process.


It is understood that the BBC has already drawn up a long list of candidates – even before the job is advertised – with Kirsty Wark, Emily Maitlis and Julie Etchingham said to be in the running for the coveted post, replacing David Dimbleby when he steps down at the end of the year.

According to sources, the BBC is expected to advertise for the post both externally and internally, although it is understood that the search has not yet formally begun.

But RadioTimes.com understands that a clutch of experienced female journalists are very much on the minds of BBC bosses.

Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis is one internal favourite for landing the new gig, it is understood.

The BBC is very keen to give her more work say sources, especially after she became embroiled in the row over BBC pay last year when it was revealed that she was not on the list of people earning £150,000 or more.

Even before the pay scandal broke, it’s said that BBC bosses floated the possibility of an hour long 10pm news bulletin – with Maitlis sharing presenting duties with Huw Edwards. However, this idea, which was mooted 18 months ago, was quietly dropped. The BBC declined to comment when asked about this.

Another candidate is Kirsty Wark, also a highly-respected Newsnight alumnus.

As well as her obvious skills, the 63-year-old lives in Glasgow, where the Question Time production is based.

“It’s not a big factor but it’s a factor – she definitely has the skills and gravitas for a role like this,” said a source.

Also said to be in the frame is Julie Etchingham.


The ITV newscaster impressed BBC bosses with her handling of the ITV Election Debates in 2015 and is seen as a good candidate, with the BBC expected to make an approach even if she decides not to apply.