Emma Barnett to join BBC Radio 4’s Today programme | Radio 4

Emma Barnett, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, will join the Today programme from May.

Barnett, who had been tipped for the role with the BBC’s flagship morning radio show after Martha Kearney announced last month she was to step down, said she was “delighted to be joining a programme that occupies such a unique space in British life”.

Barnett said she hoped to ask the questions that listeners wanted to hear while also “raising many smiles along the way”. She said: “We are living in volatile times where sometimes even asking a question can seem risky – wrongly so.”

Today’s editor, Owenna Griffiths, said Barnett was “a truly great radio talent”, adding: “She consistently puts the audience at the heart of her programmes and her unique combination of warmth, energy and persistence will be a fantastic addition to the lineup.”

Barnett, the main host of Woman’s Hour since January 2021, will join Mishal Husain, Nick Robinson, Justin Webb and Amol Rajan on Today’s presenting team.

Born in Manchester, she began her eponymous show on BBC Radio 5 Live in 2016 and won the radio broadcaster of the year award in 2018. As well as being on BBC Two’s Newsnight roster, she has also presented Question Time, the Andrew Marr Show and Politics Live.

Her recent book, Period, documented her struggles with endometriosis and adenomyosis, where endometrial tissue grows into the uterus’s muscular wall.

She said she would miss Woman’s Hour and its “mighty army of listeners”, and would carry certain moments for the rest of her life, such as conducting the first interview with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after her release from prison in Iran.

“My time on Woman’s Hour means a great deal to me and I want to thank the team and our mighty army of listeners for how much we have shared – the joy, wisdom, sorrow and sometimes sheer rage,” she said. “I will greatly miss being within the rare and unique space Woman’s Hour provides, where most days anything can happen and routinely does. All power to the next person gifted the opportunity.”

It will leave a sizeable hole to fill at Woman’s Hour, with BBC executives saying they were actively looking for a new presenter and inviting “expressions of interest from experienced live broadcasters who have strong journalistic credentials, warmth and gravitas to lead this flagship Radio 4 programme”.

Deborah Turness, the chief executive of BBC News, said: “Emma is a formidable, fearless and ferociously intelligent journalist and I’m delighted that she will be showcasing her considerable talents across all of BBC News’ platforms.”

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