BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme will have five guest editors over Christmas, including actor, writer, comedian and producer Lenny Henry CBE.
Other guest editors are Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, Tracey Thorn, singer, songwriter and author, Lord King of Lothbury, former Governor of the Bank of England and Lady Butler Sloss, former President of the High Court Family Division.
The programmes will air on Radio 4’s Today between Friday 26 and Wednesday 31 December.
Beginning the guest editor take over on Boxing Day, the Speaker John Bercow will look ahead to parliament’s 750th anniversary. He’ll ask Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales how to re-tool the House for the digital era and interview Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi about Myanmar’s fledgling democracy. He’ll also speak to personal hero Roger Federer about staying motivated in old age and pushy tennis parents.
On 27 December, former Everything But The Girl singer Tracey Thorn will pay homage to Kate Bush with her own cover of Under The Ivy. She will also look at how the internet can be a positive force for teenagers, rather than the threat we often hear about.
With social mobility never far from the headlines, on 29 December Mervyn King returns to his old school in Wolverhampton to find out how to teach aspiration. He’ll also be looking ahead to next year’s bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and asking whether German footballers are cleverer than English ones.
Taking the helm on 30 December, Lenny Henry will explore diversity on his show, featuring interviews with the people who broke down racial barriers a generation ago and asking how much more progress is needed in broadcasting, business and sport. He will also look at comic books and the black literary canon.
Finally, as the year draws to a close, on 31 December Baroness Butler Sloss will visit Gibraltar to find out what the future holds for this much overlooked British outpost. Her programme will also tackle how the media misunderstands the countryside and how stressful the life of a parish priest can be.
Jamie Angus, Editor of Today, says: “Today’s Christmas guest editors bring us stories, angles, and interviews we wouldn’t normally find ourselves. This year’s crop has reached the very top in politics, finance, the law, and entertainment. The breadth of their experience and the diversity of their interests will provide a real treat for the listeners.”
Previous guest editors have included Michael Palin, Professor Stephen Hawking, PD James, Eliza Manningham Buller, Dr Rowan Williams, David Hockney, Melinda Gates and Lord Tebbit.