Earlier this year, it was announced that the 71-year-old’s politics programme would not be returning to our screens, amid job cuts at the BBC.
Although it was initially thought that Andrew would be remaining with the BBC despite his show being axed, he confirmed on Friday evening that this will not be the case, and he’ll instead be fronting a show on a new British channel, GB News, where he will also serve as chairman.
“With heavy heart I announce I will be leaving the BBC,” he wrote on Twitter. “Despite sterling efforts by [the new director general] to come up with other programming opportunities, it could not quite repair damage done when Andrew Neil Show cancelled early summer + Politics Live taken off air.”
He continued: “I leave with no animosity or desire to settle scores. I look back on my 25 years doing live political programmes for the BBC with affection. And gratitude for brilliant colleagues at Millbank, who always made sure I went into the studio fully briefed and equipped for the fray.
“They were/are the best of the best. If they can make me look good, they can make anybody look good. There could have been a different outcome but for reasons too dull to adumbrate, we’ll leave it there. I wish the BBC and the new DG well. The BBC will always be special to me.”
Andrew concluded: “As for the future, I’m delighted to announce I have accepted the post of Chairman of GB News, a new news channel to be launched early in the New Year bringing new perspectives to the news.
“I will also be presenting a new nightly prime-time show on GB News. Watch this space.”
When one Twitter user suggested that GB News could be the UK equivalent of the right-wing US news broadcaster Fox News, he hit back: “GB News will NOT be Fox News. But, of course, it suits you to claim it. We don’t don’t care.”
A BBC spokesperson said in a statement: “We’d like to give our heartfelt thanks to Andrew for his many years of work for the BBC, during which he’s informed and entertained millions of viewers.
“From his early broadcasting days on Despatch Box in the 1990s to his recent forensic and agenda-setting political interviews, he has proved a formidable and hugely talented broadcaster.
“For years, he was at the heart of the irreverent and much-loved This Week and played a key role in the Daily and Sunday Politics, Politics Live and the BBC’s general election coverage.
“We wish Andrew every success in his new role; we’re sorry the US election coverage will be his last BBC presentation work for the foreseeable future but he will always be welcome at the BBC.”
Although he insisted his initial statement that he was leaving with “no animosity”, he did go on to retweet a number of messages from his supporters criticising the BBC, including one which read: “Those of us who warned that the BBC will destroy itself by embracing wokeness are being proven right.”
Despite airing for less than a year, The Andrew Neil Show played an outsized part in last year’s General Election, when Boris Johnson infamously refused to appear after Jeremy Corbyn was mauled on the show.
Andrew even went so far as to issue a challenge to the PM to commit to an interview with him in a powerful straight-to-camera monologue.
In the key section of his message, the BBC presenter said the theme running through the questions he would ask is “trust”, and why “in so many times in his career, critics and sometimes even those close to him, have deemed him to be untrustworthy”.
Johnson never did accept the chance to be scrutinised by Andrew Neil, and infamously even hid in a fridge to avoid being questioned by a reporter for ITV’s Good Morning Britain.