LONDON: Andrew Marr has announced he is leaving the BBC after 21 years, including 16 presenting his BBC Sunday morning show – amid a major reshuffle at the broadcaster.
He said he would focus on writing and presenting political and cultural shows for the media company Global and writing for newspapers, adding that he was looking forward to having greater freedom to express himself outside the strict impartiality rules at the BBC, reports The Guardian.
Marr said he would “leave behind many happy memories and wonderful colleagues” at the public broadcaster.
Which of them will step into his shoes is likely to be the focus of speculation in the coming weeks.
The expectation among BBC staff had been that Marr would stay for another two years but he is thought to have been in discussions with Global for some time.
His departure is part of a game of musical chairs among leading presenters and journalists at the BBC, with executives trying to find roles for them. Jon Sopel recently returned from Washington DC, where he will be replaced as BBC North America editor by the Scotland editor, Sarah Smith.
The political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, is in discussions about stepping down and finding a new home, potentially as a presenter on the Today programme. This could leave the Radio 4 morning show with too many presenters, causing some to look elsewhere.
The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, said Marr had been a “brilliant journalist and presenter” who left an “unmatched legacy of outstanding political interviews and landmark programmes”.
Marr was born in Glasgow and began his career at the Scotsman newspaper. In 1984, he moved to London to work as a parliamentary correspondent for the newspaper, before becoming a political correspondent.
He joined the Independent in 1986 as a member of its launch staff, before leaving for the Economist, whe
re he ultimately became the political editor. Marr returned to the Independent as political editor in 1992 and became the editor in 1996. He oversaw radical changes in its format in a bid to halt a decline in readership figures.
He left in early 1998, with some reports suggesting he was sacked, and took roles at different papers before arriving at the BBC in May 2000.
The journalist has been a staunch defender of the broadcaster’s independence in the past, telling the Guardian last year he believed there was a “drive on to destroy the BBC”.