James Naughtie

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James Naughtie
Birth name Alexander James Naughtie[1]
Born (1951-08-09) 9 August 1951 (age 65)[1]
Milltown of Rothiemay, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Show Today programme
Station(s) BBC Radio 4
Network BBC
Show Bookclub
Station(s) BBC Radio 4
Network BBC
Country United Kingdom
Parents Alexander and Isabella[1]
Spouse(s) Eleanor Updale
Children 2 daughters, 1 son[1]

Alexander James "Jim" Naughtie (surname pronounced /ˈnɔːxti/; born 9 August 1951) is a British radio and news presenter for the BBC. From 1994 until 2015 he was one of the main presenters of Radio 4's Today programme.

In July 2015 he announced, via the BBC, that in early 2016 he would retire from regular presenting duties on the programme and would, instead, be its 'Special Correspondent' with 'responsibility for charting the course of the constitutional changes at the heart of the UK political debate', as well as the BBC News's Books Editor, contributing a book review to the Saturday morning editions of Today.[2] In his 21-plus years on Today, Naughtie had anchored every BBC Radio UK election results programme since 1997 and had worked on every US presidential election since 1988, the BBC added.

"After 21 years, I can turn off that 3am alarm at last," the Daily Telegraph quoted Naughtie as having said.[3] He presented his last edition of Today on 16 December 2015.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

James Naughtie was born and brought up in Milltown of Rothiemay, near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was educated at Keith Grammar School, the University of Aberdeen and then Syracuse University in New York. He is a Fellow of the British-American Project.

Naughtie began his career as a journalist in 1975 at the Aberdeen Press & Journal, moving to the London offices of The Scotsman in 1977. The following year he joined the paper's Westminster staff, and became its Chief Political Correspondent. In 1981, he worked for The Washington Post as the Laurence Stern fellow on its national staff. Naughtie joined The Guardian in 1984, and became its Chief Political Correspondent in 1985.

Radio presenter[edit]

In 1986, Naughtie moved into radio presenting, hosting The Week In Westminster before moving to The World At One in 1988. He has also made several radio documentaries and series and has written three books, Playing the Palace: A Westminster Collection, The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage, and The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency.

Naughtie has been a presenter of the televised Proms since 1992, and has also presented opera programmes such as Radio 3's Opera News. Naughtie is also the current host of Radio 4's Bookclub.[5]

In 1994 he became one of the main presenters of Radio 4's Today programme. His practice of asking particularly long questions is sometimes noted by commentators.[citation needed] Shortly before the 2005 General Election he opened a question to Labour politician Ed Balls "If we win the election...", which led to criticism that he was not neutral as required of BBC political journalists.[6] He has a distinctive Scottish accent which has been named as the "best voice to wake up to" in a comparative survey.[7]

Throughout June, July and August 2012, and in early September 2012, he presented The New Elizabethans on Radio Four, a programme about notable people under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. This programme was put on to honour the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. It has dealt with various famous names, including Richard Doll, Philip Larkin, Elizabeth David, Margot Fonteyn, Peter Hall, Cicely Saunders, John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Tim Berners-Lee. The final week of the programme dealt with Tony Blair, Fred Goodwin, Rupert Murdoch, Simon Cowell and finished with the Queen herself.[8]

On 16 July 2013, it was announced that Naughtie's presentational role on Today would be temporarily reduced, as he was to become a presenter of Good Morning Scotland for two days a week in the run up the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.[9][10] Naughtie returned to his usual role on Today in time for the 2015 general election.[11]

Awards and positions[edit]

Naughtie was voted Sony Radio Awards Radio Personality of the Year in 1991 and Voice of the Listener & Viewer Award in 2001. He is a member of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and a United Kingdom advisory board member for the British-American Project, which exists to promote the British-American relationship.

Naughtie was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Stirling in 2001, and installed as chancellor of the University of Stirling on 9 October 2008, succeeding Dame Diana Rigg when her ten-year term ended.[12]

Naughtie chaired the judges for the inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

On-air expletive[edit]

On 6 December 2010, Naughtie was co-presenting the Today Programme, and trailing the guests who would be interviewed after the 8am news bulletin. Introducing Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, he inadvertently replaced the "H" at the beginning of "Hunt" with a "C". Choking on his words, he was clearly embarrassed by the mistake, and gave a full apology once he had recovered. However, only an hour later, another BBC presenter, Andrew Marr made the same mistake when discussing Naughtie's error.[13][14]

Personal life[edit]

Naughtie is married to Eleanor Updale, author of the Montmorency books and a former producer of The World at One.< They have three children, and live in south-west London.[15]



  1. ^ a b c d Debrett's biodata
  2. ^ James Naughtie to leave Radio 4 Today programme, BBC News, 7 July 2015. Retrieved: 9 July 2015.
  3. ^ Jim Naughtie to leave BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Anita Singh, Daily Telegraph, London, 7 July 2015. Retrieved: 9 July 2015.
  4. ^ "JAMES NAUGHTIE: Sparring with Blair, eating squirrel and that Jeremy Hunt slip - why I'll miss the Today programme". Daily Mail. 12 December 2015. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Bookclub". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Kavanagh, Trevor (2005-03-03). "Naughtie pro-Labour gaffe". The Sun. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  7. ^ Jefferies, Mark (2011-05-13). "Presenter James Naughtie named as best voice to wake up to". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  8. ^ "The New Elizabethans". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Victoria Ward "Today programme appoints Mishal Husain to replace James Naughtie", telegraph.co.uk, 16 July 2013
  10. ^ "James Naughtie joins BBC's Good Morning Scotland". BBC. 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Jason Deans and Josh Halliday "BBC's Mishal Husain to join Today", guardian.co.uk, 16 July 2013
  12. ^ "Dr James Naughtie". University of Stirling. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Adam Gabbatt and John Plunkett (6 December 2010). "James Naughtie blames Dr Spooner after renaming Jeremy Hunt". The Guardian web-site. The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Joe Murphy (6 December 2010). "BBC's James Naughtie and Andrew Marr make C-word slips over Jeremy Hunt". The Standard web-site. London Evening Standard. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Tony Kane (25 August 2010). "James Naughtie: Many Hats". Time and Leisure. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Brian Redhead
Presenter of Today Programme
1994 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Robin Day
Main presenter: The World at One
Succeeded by
Nick Clarke