Bruce is the an­swer for Ques­tion Time

BBC news pre­sen­ter is ‘thrilled but daunted’ to step into the shoes of her TV hero David Dim­bleby

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Anita Singh ARTS AND EN­TER­TAIN­MENT ED­I­TOR

QUES­TION TIME is to have a “softer” feel af­ter Fiona Bruce agreed to take over as host, sign­ing up for the job on con­di­tion that she con­tin­ues to present An­tiques Road­show, Fake or For­tune? and the BBC’S flag­ship news bul­letins.

The heavy work­load will make Bruce one of the cor­po­ra­tion’s high­est­paid stars, adding the Ques­tion Time fee to her pre­vi­ously pub­lished salary of £350,000-£399,999.

It will also make her one of the busiest. Bruce’s only con­ces­sion to her new role will be to cut back on the num­ber of Six O’clock and Ten O’clock News bul­letins she presents, al­though she will still front them reg­u­larly.

Bruce emerged as a sur­prise fron­trun­ner last month af­ter au­di­tion­ing to re­place David Dim­bleby, who is step­ping down af­ter 25 years. The BBC said she would bring “warmth” to the role and act as a peo­ple’s cham­pion.

Dim­bleby’s salary has never been pub­lished be­cause he was paid via Men­torn, the in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­tion com­pany. How­ever, Bruce’s salary will come di­rect from the BBC and there­fore be in the pub­lic do­main when salaries are dis­closed in next sum­mer’s an­nual re­port.

A source said that pro­duc­ers were keen to give the show “a softer feel”.

The two other short­listed pre­sen­ters were Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark and Emily Maitlis.

Bruce was de­ter­mined to hang on to An­tiques Road­show, which she has pre­sented for a decade, and her other com­mit­ments.

In an in­ter­view in 2012, she claimed that she did not ex­pect her ca­reer to last too much longer. “Age is def­i­nitely an is­sue for women in TV,” she said.

“There comes a point – es­pe­cially if you’re a woman – when your ca­reer just falls off a cliff. I’m not be­ing self­pi­ty­ing. That’s just the way it is.”

How­ever, the BBC’S pledge to close the gen­der pay gap led to the cre­ation of an all-woman short­list for Ques­tion Time. At 54, Bruce is 26 years younger than Dim­bleby.

Fran Unsworth, di­rec­tor of BBC News and Cur­rent Af­fairs, said: “Ques­tion Time is one of our flag­ship po­lit­i­cal pro­grammes, giv­ing peo­ple across Bri­tain the chance to hold the pow­er­ful to ac­count.

“David is a tough act to fol­low but Fiona im­pressed us all with her au­thor­ity, warmth and abil­ity to con­nect with the au­di­ence and cham­pion their con­cerns.”

Bruce said: “It is an hon­our to be asked to take on one of the great po­lit­i­cal pro­grammes of the BBC, par­tic­u­larly at a time of such his­toric change for the UK and tu­mult at West­min­ster.”

Bruce started her BBC ca­reer as a re­searcher on Panorama in 1990 be­fore be­com­ing a re­porter and pre­sen­ter for BBC Break­fast and Newsnight. In 1999 she was pro­moted to the Six O’clock News. In 2001, she be­came the first fe­male pre­sen­ter in the BBC’S gen­eral elec­tion stu­dio team.

She will take over when the new se­ries be­gins on Jan 10.

Mean­while last night a BBC ex­ec­u­tive risked an­ger­ing view­ers when she said that view­ers “love re­peats” at Christ­mas.

Kate Philips, the con­troller for en­ter­tain­ment, made the claim af­ter it emerged that 59 per cent of the con­tent on the BBC’S two main chan­nels over Christ­mas had aired be­fore, The Mirror re­ported.

Shows set to be re­peated in­clude The Vicar of Di­b­ley and Dad’s Army.

‘It is a show I have watched for as long as I can re­mem­ber and have long wanted to be part of. I can’t wait to start’

Fiona Bruce has been named as the new host of Ques­tion Time, re­plac­ing David Dim­bleby who is step­ping down af­ter 25 years. A source said BBC pro­duc­ers wanted to give the pro­gramme a ‘softer feel’.


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