Tuesday 22 October 2019

Dame Edna Everage helps John Humphrys mark final Today broadcast

The flagship BBC Radio 4 show is featuring interviews with former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair.

John Humphrys in the studio for his final Today broadcast (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
John Humphrys in the studio for his final Today broadcast (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Dame Edna Everage helped send off John Humphrys on his final day presenting the Today programme.

The flagship BBC Radio 4 show lined up final interviews for Humphrys with former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair.

But the broadcaster quipped “they’ve been just a little overshadowed” by Dame Edna, the alter-ego of Barry Humphries.

Humphrys asked whether Dame Edna had “any words of guidance for somebody like me, who is retiring from a job after a very long time doing it”.

Dame Edna replied with a rhyme, saying: “How I loved to hear you sing when you and I had that tempestuous fling.

“But I’ve always been discreet about our lives and I’ve never breathed a word to your ex-wives.

“The Queen told me, before you grow much older, her sword will descend upon the Humphrys shoulder.

“Her voice is quiet, it doesn’t really carry. She might have said ‘John’ but she probably meant ‘Barry’.

“You won’t grow old, you’ll just get nicely mellow. So hug your trees, play Elgar on your cello.”

Humphrys responded: “You can’t follow that, really.”

ipanews_e328d410-f953-4a67-97df-de62b88d7209_embedded245344815
(PA Graphics)

Sports broadcaster Garry Richardson told Humphrys: “It’s been a pleasure working with you… You’ve been an outstanding presenter on the Today programme, one of Britain’s great broadcasters, a job very well done.”

But he also quipped: “If I lent you two or three grand and I didn’t see you again for three or four years, it would be money well spent.”

Humphrys, famous for his on-air interrogations of political figures, discussed his combative technique in an interview with Mr Blair.

The pair also chatted about how many politicians now deal directly with people on social media instead of being interviewed by journalists.

Humphrys admitted critics say “the problem with the Today programme interview, for instance… is that it’s too confrontational, too argumentative… and (we) put ourselves on a pedestal…”

ipanews_e328d410-f953-4a67-97df-de62b88d7209_embedded218194717
Barry Humphries in character as Dame Edna Everage (Tim Goode/PA)

He added: “I don’t think I’m the only target… I am a seeker of truth.”

Humphrys joined Today in January 1987.

He has sparked controversy with his interviews over the years and co-host Justin Webb – on-air for his final show – recently said many of the veteran broadcaster’s most vociferous critics are ageist.

Today programme editor Sarah Sands said: “Losing John in the mornings is a bit like Big Ben being silenced. I will miss his restlessness, his capacity for delight, his profound curiosity and his humanity.”

PA Media

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top