In what seemed like a bolt-from-the-blue, Huw Edwards over the weekend came close to revealing he will soon step down from presenting the News at Ten.
But for many months internal warfare has been raging at the increasingly woke BBC about the Welshman’s stranglehold on the corporation’s flagship bulletin, watched by millions of Brits every night.
The PC brigade – now dominant at the Beeb – have been vocally opposed to Huw, who turns 60 this week.
They say he is ‘too old and too white’ to carry on in the role he has held since 2003 in the long-term.
One household name BBC News presenter told me recently: ‘It’s outrageous that Huw is still in place at the News at Ten and there is a major push underway to get him to stand down and take a reduced role.
In what seemed like a bolt-from-the-blue, Huw Edwards over the weekend came close to revealing he will soon step down from presenting the News at Ten
‘He’s an old white guy and he’s very arrogant. The feeling is that it’s time for the BBC to practice what it preaches on such an important show. Huw hasn’t helped himself and doesn’t have a lot of allies.’
Such ferocity from the fellow famous presenter towards Huw surprised me.
But speaking to various sources within the BBC it’s clear the identity politics their reporters regularly promote on screen has had a big influence behind-the-scenes.
Major on screen vacancies at BBC News in recent years have been used to address an apparent diversity issue.
Old white bloke Jeremy Paxman was replaced by female Emily Maitlis on Newsnight.
It’s no surprise the favourites internally to replace Edwards include the aforementioned Bruce, Sophie Raworth, Mishal Husain (pictured) and Reeta Chakrabarti
Old white bloke David Dimbleby was replaced by female Fiona Bruce on Question Time.
Old white bloke Eddie Mair was replaced by gay Evan Davis on PM.
Old white bloke John Humphrys was replaced by black Clive Myrie on Mastermind.
You get the idea.
Often it seems like one’s demographics are more important than their talent.
So it’s no surprise the favourites internally to replace Edwards include the aforementioned Bruce, Sophie Raworth, Mishal Husain and Reeta Chakrabarti.
Old white bloke David Dimbleby was replaced by female Fiona Bruce (pictured) on Question Time
Some think a rotating cast of these women could fill the void when Edwards leaves.
Exactly when that will be is unclear, but his interview is being seen as an attempt to show his rivals within BBC News that he won’t hang on for much longer.
Edwards made the revelation in what the BBC described as a ‘special interview’ for Radio Cymru ahead of his 60th birthday on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Welsh language broadcaster Dewi Llywd, he said: ‘Now that a big milestone is here, which is 60-years-old, it’s natural for a man to think, ‘Am I going to continue in this job for another five years, or do I want to do something different?’
Dan Wootton (pictured): Often it seems like one’s demographics are more important than their talent
‘The nightly news business, after 20 years, that can be taxing, even though I still enjoy the job. But I don’t think I’ll be doing that for long. Because I believe that, in the first place, I think it’s fair for the viewers to get a change.
‘Secondly, I have co-workers who are very talented – it’s time to give them a chance too.’
He added: ‘I won’t disappear tomorrow from the 10 o’clock news because I’m still enjoying myself. But of course, I’m thinking about the working patterns of the future. And the truth is that I don’t want to sustain these working patterns for a long time to come, because I don’t believe it’s a very wise thing at all.’
Edwards is a BBC lifer, starting work at the corporation as a trainee in 1984. He rose through the ranks to host the BBC News at Six in 1999, moving to the flagship News at Ten in 2003. He has also replaced David Dimbleby as the host of election night broadcasts.
Last month he was revealed to be the fourth highest paid BBC star, with a salary of between £425,000 to £429,999, a drop of 8.6 per cent year on year.
But in the interview, he admitted the publication of his pay as part of new disclosures forced on the BBC in recent years had been a ‘nightmare’ and expressed annoyance at his BBC News colleagues receiving rises as he took cuts.
He said: ‘It has angered me, to be honest. Not because I’m embarrassed about pay, especially because I took a huge cut years ago anyway. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me. But if you do get a huge pay cut, it’s certainly going to affect you, your psychology, and your attitude towards the work. Especially if you see co-workers getting large pay rises and you don’t quite understand why.’
His on-screen news rivals on the list included Fiona Bruce (£405,000), Emily Maitlis (£325,000), George Alagiah (£325,000), Sophie Raworth (£280,000), Mishal Husain (£275,000), Clive Myrie (£205,000) and Reeta Chakrabarti (£175,000).
All could be in line to benefit financially when Edwards reduces his role on the News at Ten.
So insiders suggest the battle of the Beeb over control of its most important news bulletin is going to get even nastier in the months to come.
Just don’t expect any older white men to be seriously considered to replace Huw.