Evan Davis on the BBC’s gender pay gap, online abuse and kicking his hour-a-day Simpsons addiction

The Newsnight host also discusses tight suits, his favourite TV shows and the drawbacks of presenting the Today programme

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We imagine you’re on the sofa in your BBC2 Newsnight tight suit and white shirt with no tie…

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No! No, no – that would be incorrect! I’m in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I don’t wear suits in my own time, and when I’m on Newsnight I never wear the same suit two days running. And I wear a blue shirt sometimes.

The suits are quite tight, though.

I do try to get suits that are quite fitted, but actually it’s been quite hard. Dolce & Gabbana do some quite skinny suits and Paul Smith as well. I have a lot of Paul Smith.

What are you watching?

I watch quite a lot of news. And I have never, ever got tired of watching Frasier and Larry Sanders. And I had an hour-a-day The Simpsons habit for seven years. At one point I did wonder, “Will I ever get over this Simpsons thing? Even now I would say a day doesn’t go by without me thinking about a Simpsons scene and how it relates to some political argument or piece of behaviour. The Simpsons was a very big influence on me.

Those are very 1990s’ choices – are you too busy to watch modern TV?

There’s nothing me and my husband Guillaume like more than an evening in with a glass of wine and a chance to sit and catch-up on box sets. We are always about three or four behind everybody else, so I’m saving the rest of The Wire up for my retirement.

Do you and Guillaume have an ultra-cool London pad?

It’s relatively minimally furnished and we do have the Google home device – it’s the voice-controlled speaker device and we can just call out, “Turn on Radio 4” and it does.

Is it still strange, four years on, not hearing yourself on Today?

It is a bit, actually. And when I listen I do often ask myself, “How would I do that?” I think I normally ask it not out of an arrogant “I would do that better,” but more, “Would I have taken it that way?” And one of the great drawbacks of the Today programme was that if I had a disaster everybody I knew listened to it.

Evan Davis, Getty
Evan Davis, Getty

And does everyone you know watch Newsnight?

You get enough abuse on social media to know that people are watching! But vile abuse is rare. Sometimes I’m called a “squiffy-eyed jerk”. Does that bother me? No, how can it?

How did you deal with the row about BBC presenters’ pay?

I kept my head down. There were quite a lot of mentions of Newsnight because of the discrepancy between me and Emily Maitlis, and I think you’ll find that’s now been rectified. It was news to me last year, but that was only because I hadn’t really talked to my colleagues. Sometimes Emily and I are in the office at the same time, but it’s not like we’re sitting next to each other gossiping all day.

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As well as Newsnight, Evan Davis presents Sweet Reason, Thursday 9am Radio 4


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