Jane Garvey signs off Woman’s Hour with ‘terrible truth’ admission

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·3-min read

Jane Garvey signed off her final Woman’s Hour broadcast by admitting the “terrible truth” about her understanding of feminism when she first hosted the programme.

After 13 years, the broadcaster presented her final instalment of Woman’s Hour on New Year’s Eve.

Emma Barnett will take over the long-running show, a staple of the BBC Radio 4 schedules.

Garvey told listeners: “I have learnt so much about the social history and about women’s lives.

“The terrible truth is that when I came to Woman’s Hour, I knew about feminism and I was a feminist but I’m not sure I really saw … I’d wanted to be a radio presenter and I’d become a radio presenter and so I’d think, ‘What are people complaining about?'”

But she added: “During the course of these cataclysmic years on Woman’s Hour, I’ve learnt that actually, for all sorts of reasons, women have to be that bit better, we have to try harder (than men), it’s going to be a bit tougher for us.”

Dame Jenni Murray has also left the show, which has aired since 1946.

Garvey, who admitted she was “going a bit wobbly” as she signed off the programme, said: “Genuinely, this has been one of the toughest decisions of my life.

“The reason I’m going is because I could have stayed.

“I sometimes think the hardest thing is to change when it’s the last thing you want to do but probably the best thing to do.”

Emma Barnett is the new host of Woman's Hour
Emma Barnett is the new host of Woman’s Hour (Lia Toby/PA)

But she said change is the “best thing” for the programme which was presented by a man when it first aired.

“It’s not just a radio programme. It’s one of ‘the’ radio programmes and I’ve had a chance to do it,” she said. “The programme needs to move on and now it can.”

And she said: “Our listeners are genuinely un-shockable. Very rarely do they complain about any of it.

“I’m leaving just as some of you are getting used to me! Listeners to Radio 4 are somewhat change resistant!”

Garvey will host her own interview series on Radio 4.

But she added: “I’ll now be forever known as a former presenter of Woman’s Hour. That, as far as I’m concerned, is absolutely fine, I’ll settle with that.”

Asked what she will not miss, she said: “Timings. People like the woman next door who’s already gearing up to shout ’44 minutes 30 seconds!”’

Wishing the new host luck, she said: “I cannot emphasise enough Woman’s Hour carries on … It’s here tomorrow, it’s here next week – with Emma Barnett.

“It will be different and it will be fantastically interesting.

“And it will still be Woman’s Hour, that’s the most important thing to emphasise.

“It’s the programme, that’s the thing. It’s been going since 1946.”

Woman’s Hour enjoys a diverse range of listeners, including men who listen to learn about women as well as men “who listen to get annoyed”.