After nearly a decade helming Radio 4’s The News Quiz, Sandi Toksvig stepped down this year to found The Women’s Equality Party, focusing her energies on the new party while comedian Miles Jupp took over hosting duties for the panel show.
Toksvig says that while the show and the BBC will always have a special place in her heart, she had to make a clean break, and hasn’t listened to The News Quiz since Jupp took over on the 18th September.
“I loved doing The News Quiz, and it was great,” she told the crowd today at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. “But I’m not a person who looks back, despite my love of history. I don’t look back in my life – I move forward.
“I haven’t heard [the new version], but that’s only because I haven’t had the time. Miles Jupp is brilliant, and I suspect he will be fantastic. Mostly, what you learn in life is that you’re replaceable.
“I loved doing it, but now I look forward to doing the next thing.”
The News Quiz’s new host Miles Jupp
Speaking at Cheltenham to promote her latest children’s book A Slice of the Moon, Toksvig also described how The News Quiz inspired her to form the Women’s Equality Party after years of frustration over the news stories the series covered.
“I have been doing the News Quiz on Radio 4 for… well I’ve been on it for 23 years, and hosting it for nine,” she said. “And talk about history being cyclical – I have watched politicians come and go, and the same battles being fought over and over again. And nothing has changed if we’re going to be honest.”
“You get to a moment where you decide, ‘I can either sit and shout at the television, or I can get up off my bottom and do something about it.’ I’m tired of the fact that we do not have gender equality in this country.”
Toksvig collects her OBE in April 2014
Later in the talk, Toksvig went on to add her voice to the throng of celebrities warning about the future of the BBC, the remit of which is currently being reviewed by the government. As it turns out, she has a fairly personal (and genealogical) connection to the corporation.
“I’m passionate about the BBC. Passionate,” she said. “My parents met at the BBC, my father trained at the BBC, my mother was there – if you cut me open it will say BBC, running through me like a stick of rock.
“It is the greatest brand this country has ever produced, and woe betide any government that tries to destroy it. I really am so passionate about the BBC. I’ve travelled into what I can only describe as difficult parts of the world, into very remote corners of the world to create documentaries. And you say BBC and they smile.”
She concluded: “It is the greatest calling card of this country, so I would be very sad about any attempt made to destroy it.”
The News Quiz is on Radio 4 on Fridays at 6.30pm