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Peter Hanington | 13:23 UK time, Thursday, 28 December 2006

Guest editors, unlike small puppies, are not for life. They're just for Christmas. And I think it's probably just as well.

The Today programme logoDealing with this year's crop has been an absolute pleasure, of course. But the combined enthusiasm of Yoko Ono, Zac Goldsmith, Rowan Williams, Clive Woodward and Allan Leighton - not to mention a globe of excitable geographers (is that the correct collective noun?) - have pushed me and senior producer Richard Knight close to the edge.

Take Zac Goldsmith. Now come to think of it, he is quite a lot like a puppy - a gorgeous little golden retriever judging by the way the women in the Today Programme office react to the very mention of his name. Educated, sophisticated and - let's face it - worldly, the women of Today have been asking us for weeks whether Zac was planning to come in for his guest edit. We told them all yes. So perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised when so many turned up for his programme wearing fewer clothes and a lot more perfume.

Being Zac must be a bit like being the Queen - but while she smells fresh paint wherever she goes, he has to endure clouds of Chanel Allure.

You can get too close and start to lose your news judgement. Picture the scene in the studio the other morning as some breaking news threatened to push one of the guest-edited items off the end of the running order. I reacted badly. "I don't care how many American Presidents have died! Yoko asked for a piece on flightless birds and she's damn well going to get it!"

Fortunately calmer heads prevailed and - as in previous years - I was dragged from the studio and locked in the disabled toilet till the programme ended.


  • 1.
  • At 01:58 PM on 29 Dec 2006,
  • Leo Vegoda wrote:

I agree that the temporary nature of the guest editors is welcome. I have turned off "Today" twice over the last week while listening to reports requested by the guest editors. I very rarely turn off the programme, but I found the guest editors' choice of reports and interviews so irritating I didn't want to hear any more and reached for the power switch.

  • 2.
  • At 02:10 PM on 29 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

How nice to know you've engaged great minds like Yoko Ono to contribute. Who next, Zippy the chimp?

  • 3.
  • At 09:24 AM on 30 Dec 2006,
  • Michael Windle wrote:

I refer to the the piece in the today programme regarding the leadership qualities of Henry V. The speech you quoted was made outside the city of Harfleur and not at the Battle of Agincourt.

At least try and get your facts.

  • 4.
  • At 09:05 AM on 01 Jan 2007,
  • Louise Frank wrote:

"So perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised when so many [women} turned up for his programme wearing fewer clothes and a lot more perfume."
What a load of sexist tosh! Come on, Mr Hanington, stop trying to make your female staff sound like simpering idiots. Or am I doing you a disservice and BBC women actually ARE simpering idiots?

  • 5.
  • At 02:37 PM on 01 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael Windle; if they got their facts straight, they wouldn't be BBC. Where else can you hear a program about New York City accompanied to strains of the musical compositon "An American in Paris" by George Gershwin as BBC aired some years ago?

  • 6.
  • At 03:38 PM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Jacob wrote:

Can I be guest editor for the Today programme? I'm sure I could do some very interesting things with the programme. I'm not a celebrity, however, so I suspect that I'm probably disqualified from the honour.

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