John Humphrys to step down as Mastermind host after 18 years

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
·2-min read

John Humphrys has announced he is stepping down from Mastermind after 18 years as host.

The journalist and former presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, 77, announced the news in a column for the Daily Mail.

He will leave the post when the current series ends in March.

Mastermind winner
2015 Mastermind winner Marianne Fairthorne (BBC/PA)

In a nod to the long-running quiz show’s catchphrase, he wrote: “I started 18 years ago — a very long time in the ephemeral world of showbiz.

“Now, after more than 750 shows, it really is time to finish.”

Humphrys took on the role of Mastermind quizmaster in 2003.

He wished his successor, who has yet been named by the BBC, well but said he did not envy them.

He wrote: “There was one particular stipulation when the BBC asked me to present Mastermind: I must not abandon the catchphrase made famous by my predecessor, Magnus Magnusson.

Magnus Magnusson dies
Former Mastermind host Magnus Magnusson (PA)

“Go on, altogether now: ‘I’ve started – so I’ll finish.’

“When the present series comes to an end in March there will be someone else in the chair.

“I wish my successor well – but I’m not sure I envy them, whoever ‘they’ may be. What are the odds on the first female?

“Mastermind is one of those programmes you tinker with at your peril. Allow a contender to choose a light-hearted subject and the cry goes out: ‘Dumbing down!’ Change the format even slightly and you are ‘sexing up’.”

Humphrys was a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme for more than 30 years until he stood down in 2019.

He hosted his final edition in September that year, with his interviewees including Tony Blair, Dame Edna Everage and David Cameron.