Today programme guest editors 2010
As with many other recently-invented ancient traditions - like Father's Day, camel racing, and chocolate-filled advent calendars - that of the Today's guest editors began as a sort of comforting diversion to the nation. This week, it became clear that, in only its eighth year, it's become much more than that.
This week, we learned from newspaper columns, from e-mails and from social media that thousands of years of Western culture and civilisation would come to an end before nine o'clock in the morning (and a festive morning, for heaven's sake!) if we invited the wrong person to guest-edit Today. So, naturally, we're careful.
This year's wonderful, varied parade of visiting luminaries - including Colin Firth, Diana Athill, Sam Taylor-Wood, Clara Furse and Richard Ingrams - will light up our programmes between Christmas and New Year with their bright ideas, and we hope to pull off our usual, improbable trick of being Today-but-not-quite-Today for a few mornings.
The regular rules will apply. The guest editors will have an enormous say in what we do on their mornings in charge - there'd be no point in having them if they didn't - but news is news, and if something demands to be covered, we'll cover it. We'll keep our fingers crossed for golden moments of the kind that PD James, Jarvis Cocker, Zadie Smith and Tony Adams have served up in recent years.
For anyone - nearly everyone, I assume - who's been skim-reading up to this point searching for the words "Katie" and "Price" (if you've been under a rock this week, you may not have seen newspaper reports that she was to be one of the guest editors), here's the news. We've been talking to Katie about doing something with Today, and we're still talking. Katie Price inhabits a world a million miles from the one that Today usually occupies, but that's not a reason for us to ignore it. Maybe she could tell us something interesting about the way a part of this country works? That's what we ask from anyone who comes on the programme.
And what are we going to ask of this year's guest editors when they start work on 27 December? We're going to help one to explain the virtues of infidelity (if you'd desperately like to hear Colin Firth make that argument, you may be disappointed) and another to make the case for single-sex schools. We'll investigate whether the brains of left-wing and right-wing people are physically different, and we'll re-open a 50-year-old murder case. Probably, Western civilisation will survive the experience.