Five guest editors, including Bill Gates’s wife Melinda and comedian Al Murray are to take over the Today programme between Christmas and New Year.
In addition, scientist Sir Paul Nurse, journalist Dame Ann Leslie and writer/poet Benjamin Zephaniah all get a day each to run the show.
Melinda Gates will talk to Warren Buffet about the fine art of philanthropy and profiles individual women across Africa, Europe and the Americas who she believes are changing the world for the better.
Benjamin Zephaniah will celebrate the UK’s range of accents, Sir Paul Nurse will talk to novelist Ian McEwan about how fiction tackles scientific fact and Ann Leslie’s programme will explore whether the mobile phone holds the key to women’s emancipation around the world and if faith can survive war reporting.
Al Murray said: “I’m looking forward to guest editing the Today Programme. Even though it means I’ll have to get up early and listen to the first hour.”
Today’s Editor, Ceri Thomas, said: “The guest editors have been responsible for some remarkable radio journalism over the years. They often surprise us with their interests and ideas and this year’s line-up should be no exception. Once again, we have a fascinating group of individuals who will bring their own unique expertise to the programme.”
The guest editors take responsibility for around a third to half of the programme’s output, with the support of Today producers and reporters to bring their ideas to air. The usual day and night editors are on hand to make sure that the material is newsworthy and meets the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.
Previous guest editors have included Jarvis Cocker, Lord Coe, Professor Stephen Hawking, Zadie Smith, PD James, Bono, Yoko Ono, Dr Rowan Williams, David Hockney, Thom Yorke, Tracey Emin and Sir Richard Branson.