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Jim Naughtie Relives That Infamous 'Jeremy Hunt' Radio 4 Today Gaffe As He Prepares To Leave After 21 Years

11/08/2015 14:55 BST | Updated 11/08/2015 14:59 BST

Radio veteran Jim Naughtie has recalled the cringeworthy moment he accidentally called former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt 'Jeremy 'C**t'' while broadcasting live to millions of people.

The Radio 4 Today programme host, who is stepping down this year, will go down in radio history for the gaffe, which he admitted made his colleagues hold their arms "up in the air" in surrender after he said the swear word on air in 2010.

In an interview in Radio Times, Naughtie relived that excruciating moment, which sent a newsreader "under the table" in fits of laughter.

james naughtie

Jim Naughtie is leaving Today this year after 21 years

It was just before the eight o’clock news on Monday 6 December, and he remembers it with clarity.

“I was there with lots of bits of paper and someone was shoving headlines in front of me and I said, ‘After the news we’ll be talking to Jeremy C***’… And all I could see behind the glass were arms going up in the air, as in ‘We surrender’.

"And the guy who was passing the news bulletins to the late Rory Morrison went under the table [laughing]…”

Naughtie, now 64, ended up coughing and spluttering in embarrassment while Morrison "saved the day" by reading the news out perfectly after the slip-up.

After the infamous gaffe, Radio 4 sent Morrison a bottle of champagne to thank him for his composure, Radio Times revealed.

Naughtie spoke candidly about the end of his 21-year Today programme career, which he is leaving later this year to become a BBC special correspondent, to be replaced on Today by Nick Robinson.

He called the Today gig his "dream job" and said he would miss “writing the front page of a newspaper – every day” or “dropping a word in the nation’s ear”.

Of his long-term on-air partner John Humphrys, 72, Naughtie said: “We’ve never had a cross word… we’re like Yin and Yang.”

“He has a nuclear reactor inside his chest somewhere that keeps him going at a rate I can’t match… he never misses a nuance… he is a consummate professional.”

“Today is like a golden cage. It’s fabulous. It’s a place you long to be, you love being there. The question is, how do you manage an exit? I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate…”

He admitted he will "probably cry" on his last day, saying: “I’m the kind of emotional guy who cries at movies. I’m an emotional person. I care about what I do and I’m moved by events… It’s finding the right way of saying something: if you don’t invest emotion into that, you’ll never do it. The price of investing emotion is… I will probably cry on my last day.”

Naughtie is known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of politics, his long and complex interview questions - one to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously clocked up 183 words - and of course, that Jeremy Hunt slip-of-the-tongue...

In his honour, here are our top five Radio 4 gaffes:

Best Radio 4 gaffes ever

james naughtie

The article in Radio Times looked back on Naughtie's two-decade career