Newsnight: Jeremy Paxman's Replacement As Presenter Is Evan Davis

21/07/2014 11:02 | Updated 21 July 2014

Jeremy Paxman's replacement as Newsnight presenter has been announced.

Paxman, who sat in the chair for 25 years, stood down last month, leaving one of the most high profile roles in British journalism up for grabs.

And now, the BBC2 programme has confirmed Evan Davis, currently a presenter on Radio 4 flagship breakfast news show Today, will be sitting in the chair.

The show's female presenters, Laura Kuenssberg, Kirsty Wark and Emily Maitlis, had all been tipped for the plum role.

BBC director general Tony Hall said that Davis, also known for his role on Dragons' Den, would do an "outstanding" job.

The director general said: "Evan is an outstanding journalist, an extraordinarily clever and intelligent interviewer.

"He has a wonderful presence on TV. I've got no doubt he will be a really great presence on Newsnight."

Davis joked on Twitter: "I didn't believe it when I read about it in the papers but now it's official. I'll be leaving @BBCr4today and heading off to Newsnight.

"I had been determined to outlive John Humphrys on @BBCr4today so I have failed. But you can't turn down Newsnight."

evan davis

Evan Davis

The news comes after a turbulent period for Newsnight in which an investigation into Jimmy Savile's sex crimes was dropped and a separate story led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse.

Davis will be the anchor for the programme three nights a week from the autumn.

A former economics editor on the programme, he has been a Today programme host for six years. Wark, Maitlis and Kuenssberg will all continue to present Newsnight.

The programme's editor Ian Katz said: "Evan brings a rare combination of curiosity, intelligence and mischief to his broadcasting - just the qualities I want Newsnight to be known for. I've admired him from afar as a listener and viewer for years, and I'm thrilled that he's joining us to help reinvent the show where he made his name in the 90s."

Davis - formerly an economist before joining the BBC - said of his new roles: "While it is a scary prospect, it will be an adventure and a challenge, and I hope the viewers will be happy with the result."

He pointed out that he felt "terribly sad" to leave his present role and he paid tribute to the team: "I have been there for over six years and those have been some of the most satisfying of my career.

"That programme is put together by remarkably few people, and I can't praise them highly enough for their professionalism and companionship," added the Oxford graduate, who also hosts BBC2's Dragon's Den.

Gwyneth Williams, the controller of Radio 4, said: "I would like to thank Evan for his inimitable contribution to Today, marked by intelligent enquiry, wit and the exposure of hubris. His loyal audience of seven million listeners will miss his take on modern Britain.

"I, personally, would like to wish him every possible success at Newsnight. And I am delighted that he continues to present our idiosyncratic business discussion programme, The Bottom Line, on Radio 4."

Davis's appointment ahead of Newsnight's Kuenssberg, Wark and Maitlis, came as the Trust pointed to a "continued gender imbalance in BBC output".

It said there needs to be "a co-ordinated plan from the Executive" to address the issue.

It added: "There have been notable individual examples of a new commitment from the Executive to improve the representation of women on air, and some broader initiatives, such as the commitment for 50% of local radio stations to have a female breakfast presenter by the end of 2014."

7 Facts About Evan Davis, The New Jeremy Paxman

  • 1 He has a nipple ring, allegedly
    Matt Crossick/Matt Crossick
    Davis' nickname at the BBC is allegedly 'tinsel tits', because he has a nipple ring. A 2005 Guardian profile said he never rolled up his sleeves to conceal his "alleged tattoo".
  • 2 He is openly gay
    Anthony Devlin/PA Archive
    'I'm a presenter who is gay rather than a gay presenter," he told The Guardian. Davis has said he was "tortured" by feelings he was gay as a teen and did not come out to his parents until after he finished university. He said they were “clearly taken aback but the next morning they were totally supportive, very lovely about it and have been ever since”.
  • 3 He once had a blazing row with Chancellor George Osborne live on air
    Zoe Ryan/EMPICS Entertainment
    Davis asked Osborne why could not answer "simple questions" about the deficit. Conservative MPs attacked him on Twitter for refusing to "let the man speak" and Downing Street made an "informal complaint" to the BBC about the segment. The broadcaster said it reviewed and decided Davis had done nothing wrong. Davis said: “To clarify: I have not been told off for the way I interviewed the Chancellor."
  • 4 He loves trash TV
    Sean Dempsey/PA Archive
    Sure, Davis was addicted to Big Brother, but he "gave up around series six". He watches comedies like The Simpsons, South Park and Frasier but said he 'trash telly' including, bizarrely, informercials. He said: "I seem to get completely engrossed by the different ways people try to sell things. I did used to watch a lot of Big Brother, but I gave up around series six. The early ones had a much better mix of people – they were, in their own way, quite subtle. Now, it's just like standing outside the school disco.
  • 5 He's a keen motorcyclist
    BBC Radio 4/Flickr
    Rarely spotted not wearing a suit, Davis was once photographed in jean, black leather boots and heavy chains. He is a keen motorcyclist who rode his Yamaha R6 when presenting The City Uncovered on BBC 2, a series of documentaries about the financial crisis.
  • 6 He crossed picket lines
    Steve Bowbrick/Flickr
    They say the BBC is full of lefties. Davis keeps his political cards close to his chest but he has crossed a picket line before. He turned up for work during a 2005 strike. He and Today co-presenter Sarah Montague went to work at 3.30am during a strike in November 2010 to keep the programme on air that day.
  • 7 His long-term partner is on Twitter
    Meet Guillaume Baltz, or @GSBaltz to his 186 followers. Baltz is a landscape architect who loves "the countryside, barn owls and urban oases" and has "a weak spot for meadows", according to his bio. He and David live together.
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