Emma Barnett has been announced as the new host of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour after Jane Garvey devastated listeners by revealing she was leaving the programme at the end of year.
Emma, 35, from Manchester, is set to take on the role of main host of the show from January 2021 when Jane, 56, will leave to host her own interview series on BBC Radio 4.
Emma is currently the host of her eponymous award-winning BBC Radio 5 Live show, as well as being among the presenting line up of Newsnight.
In a statement about the news, the presenter said: ‘I can’t wait to get to know the many listeners of Woman’s Hour a lot, lot better.
Emma Barnet, 35, has been announced as the new host of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour after Jane Garvey, 56, devastated listeners by announcing she was leaving the programme
‘What adventures we are going to have together – all starting in the year that this BBC institution, the radio mothership, turns 75.’
She continued: ‘I have a long love of Woman’s Hour and live radio and know that this is a very special and rare opportunity.’
The new presenter is known for her headline-making interviews and broadcasting firsts and recently hosted the Duchess of Cornwall’s first guest edit, live from Clarence House.
Meanwhile she also hosted the BBC’s first joint live radio and TV phone-in with a Prime Minister, Theresa May.
Jane, who presented the programme for 13 years, announced plans to step back from the hit show last week
Who is Emma Barnett?
Emma Barnett, 35, was born on 5 February 1985 in Manchester to Ian and Michele Barnett, who were business owners in the Greater Manchester area.
She is from an Orthodox jewish background and has described herself as ‘a Jew in disguise’.
In 2006, Barnett graduated with a degree in History and Politics from University of Nottingham and went on to take a postgraduate course in journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.
Barnett began her career in journalism at Media Week in 2007 and joined The Telegraph in 2009, later becoming the paper’s first digital media editor.
From 2012, she was also the paper’s women’s editor, while she also worked as a radio presenter for LBC for almost three years until early 2014.
She went on to join BBC Radio 5 Live that year, and started presenting the morning slot on BBC Radio 5 Live in September 2016.
In August 2016, Barnett’s ‘Tough Love’ agony column began in The Sunday Times magazine. She wrote about her own challenges in life, including her ‘most painful chapter’ when her father was ‘imprisoned for living off immoral earnings’.
He was jailed for three years and eight months in 2008 after admitting to keeping a string of brothels, controlling prostitution and conspiracy to control brothels.
Meanwhile her mother was convicted of money laundering in relation to earnings from the brothels and given a suspended term.
Emma went on to become the youngest presenter on Woman’s Hour at the age of 26.
In March 2019 she became one of the regular presenters on Newsnight, and that same year she released a book Period. It’s About Bloody Time, which covered her experience of endometriosis.
She has been a regular presenter on the programme since 2013 and presented alongside Jane and Jenni Murray during the 2017 and 2019 Generation Elections.
From January, she is set to present Woman’s Hour from Monday to Thursday each week, with a second presenter hosting the Friday and Saturday programmes.
She was recently embroiled in controversy when critics questioned Newsnight’s lack of ethnic minority presenters and reporters.
While the Corporation has pledged to improve diversity and better reflect its audiences, Newsnight does not have a single non-white journalist who appears in front of the camera.
The presenter recently joined the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House for her first Radio guest-edit
Meanwhile Emma has regularly hit the headlines over the years with her outspoken comments about periods.
Last year she said that if men had periods ‘menstrual leave would be baked into HR policies’ and joked they would walk around with ‘tampons behind their ears’ if they menstruated and brag they’re a ‘three pad kind of guy’.
She was also accused of being a ‘Zionist’ by apparent Jeremy Corbyn supporters on Twitter after she asked him about the cost of providing free pre-school childcare on Radio 4.
At the time, former Channel 4 economics editor Paul Mason also criticised her saying: ‘You repeatedly editorialised in a way no trained BBC journalist would, dropping in your own views/unsubstantiated claim.’
However controller of Radio 4, Mohit Bakaya, said she was ‘delighted’ Emma was joining the team, saying: ‘She started her BBC broadcasting career on Radio 4 and has continued to be closely involved with the network in general, and Woman’s Hour in particular, ever since.
The presenter has often hit the headlines for expressing her outspoken opinions about periods, appearing on This Morning last year to say if men had periods sanitary products wouldn’t be taxed as luxury items and would be available for free in schools and offices
‘She brings a terrific combination of intellectual inquiry, robust journalism and curiosity about the human condition; I can’t think of anyone better to carry on the important job of identifying and exploring the issues that matter most to women.’
It comes after Radio 4 listeners were left ‘devastated’ after Jane announced she is quitting Woman’s Hour weeks after Dame Jenni Murray said she was leaving the show.
She presented Woman’s Hour for 13 years and has interviewed some of the world’s biggest stars.
After the announcement she was met with an outpouring of sadness from listeners, who asked if her departure was related to the show trying to capture a younger audience.
She replied to a fan on Twitter: ‘I am leaving partly because it would be much much easier to stay.
Social media users expressed their disappointment after Jane announced her plans to step back from Woman’s Hour
‘Woman’s Hour will always have an ally in me. But it’s good to refresh.’
Fans of the show responded on social media expressing their disappointment at the popular presenter was leaving the show.
Mary Hoffman said: ‘Nooo! I’m devastated. You are my favourite radio 4 presenter and of course I shall listen to your new programme but I might have to give up Woman’s Hour after a 45 year habit. Good luck though.’
Pen Thompson wrote: ‘Oh no ! Losing Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey from Women’s Hour – this is an end of an era (not in a good way) and I’m very sad.’
Woman’s Hour’s Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray are both leaving the Radio 4 programme
Another added: ‘Will miss Jane Garvey on Woman’s Hour. Best presenter ever and I listened at my mothers knee in the fifties so I’ve heard them all.
Roll with it: What was Garvey’s Arctic row?
The Arctic Roll sparked the bizarre row
Jane Garvey was called a snob and forced to apologise before the end of BBC Woman’s Hour, after angering listeners by calling Arctic roll a ‘low-level pudding’.
The Merseyside-born presenter, 55, sparked fury with her comments made while talking to comic Jayde Adams, who had revealed that when she would impersonate singer Adele she used to changed the chorus of Skyfall to ‘Trifle, crumble and Arctic Roll’.
‘Anything with Arctic roll is funny. It’s a real.. and I don’t mean to be offensive.. but it’s a low-level pudding,’ responded Jane.
Many people were unimpressed with her views of the traditional British treat, which consists of vanilla ice-cream that has been wrapped in a thin sponge cake with jam.
She said at the end of the show: ‘Brief mention in apology corner to the regular purchasers and people who enjoy Arctic Roll.
‘To be honest with you, I don’t like Arctic Roll but I’m certainly not snobby about it. I do apologise if you are a big, big fan of Arctic Roll.’
‘Look forward to what you do next Jane.’
Earlier the broadcaster said in a statement: ‘It’s been a real privilege to play a small part in the history of this very special radio programme.
‘On one unforgettable day, I interviewed David Cameron in the morning, and Mary J Blige in the afternoon. There’s no other job like it.
‘But famous people are not the reason people engage with Woman’s Hour. It’s because the programme still talks about the subjects and challenges no-one else goes near.
‘I’m very proud of our relationship with the audience and the trust they place in us.’
Dame Jenni announced at the end of July that she was leaving the Radio 4 show after more than three decades. Her last programme will be on October 1.
The 70-year-old is the longest-serving presenter in the show’s 74-year history.
Garvey is believed to have decided to leave before Dame Jenni announced her departure.
The broadcaster, the first voice on Radio 5 Live when it was launched in 1994, revealed the news to her listeners on Friday morning, saying: ‘Is there anything worse than a personal statement from a radio presenter? No, not really, but I’m afraid you are about to hear one.
‘I have loved presenting Woman’s Hour, it has been a tremendous privilege, but I have decided to leave the programme at the end of the year.
‘I’m not leaving Radio 4. I’m going to be doing a new interview programme, starting in April of next year and, if you are a listener to the Fortunately podcast with me and Fi Glover, somehow or other that is being allowed to stagger on to the Radio 4 late-night schedule, so that will be coming to Radio 4 in the new year as well.’
She added: ‘No time to get maudlin … we can do that in late December.’
Garvey, who irked some listeners earlier this year and was accused of being ‘snobby’ when she called Arctic Rolls a ‘low-level pudding’, quipped on Twitter that ‘No, it wasn’t the bloody Arctic Roll thing that did for me in the end.
‘Thanks for all the comments. Especially the one that said I was way too opinionated, and a man should take over BBC Woman’s Hour immediately.’