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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 09:44 GMT
MacGregor bids farewell to Today
Sue MacGregor, John Humphrys, James Naughtie
MacGregor's co-hosts gave an affectionate send-off
Broadcaster Sue MacGregor has said an emotional goodbye to BBC Radio 4's Today programme as she finished nearly 18 years of presenting the morning show.

She introduced the programme for the last time at 0600 GMT on Wednesday.

The early morning news programme marked the event with a package of her highlights from the show.


I am going to miss it horribly; It's been an extraordinary 18 years

Sue McGregor
She was presented with flowers and champagne by her fellow hosts John Humphrys and James Naughtie.

Politicians and celebrities also paid tribute to the presenter.

BBC director general Greg Dyke said she was an "outstanding" broadcaster who would be missed.

And former Monty Python actor Michael Palin said he would miss her "unflappability and her wonderful ability to let people put their own foot in their mouths".

Sue MacGregor
She received flowers and champagne from fellow staff
Conservative politician Anne Widdecombe, who had many a run-in with McGregor, said she really looked forward to being interviewed by her.

McGregor admitted that she was close to tears on her final show and she paid tribute to her fellow presenters.

She said: "I am going to miss all of you so much. I am lost for words. I am going to miss it horribly. It's been an extraordinary 18 years."

Humphrys said it was a "privilege" to work with her, but jokingly admitted that she had "been a pain in the neck" sometimes.

MacGregor's role will be taken over by three presenters.

Sue MacGregor's computer
Even her computer was decorated for her last day
Sarah Montague will take the bulk of the work, having signed up for 120 programmes, with Allan Little and Edward Stourton also sharing duties.

MacGregor's interviewees also said their goodbyes, and in her penultimate programme, Home Secretary David Blunkett said the nation would miss her "dulcet tones".

And Conservative shadow culture spokesman Tim Yeo wished the broadcaster well at the end of his interview.

The occasion has already been marked with MacGregor's appearance as a guest on the station's Desert Island Discs programme, which was broadcast on Sunday.

'Exhausting'

She announced her retirement last November, following several months of speculation over whether the veteran presenter would renew her contract.

"Working on Today over all these years has been enormously enjoyable, challenging, stimulating and, yes, occasionally exhausting," she said.

"For a presenter it's just about the best programme on BBC Radio, and it's been a great privilege to have been there for so long.

"But now it's time to move on. I shall miss it hugely."


You get to know someone very well at 4am, and the Today family will seem strange without her

James Naughtie

MacGregor is also well known to Radio 4 listeners through her work on Woman's Hour, Tuesday Call and other programmes.

Fellow Today presenter James Naughtie said MacGregor was "one of the great figures of radio".

"Her voice and style are part of our lives. We're all going to miss her on the programme," he said.

'Towering'

"Her breadth and subtlety have made her a friend to millions of listeners over the years, because her natural intimacy makes them feel they know her."

Radio 4 controller Helen Boaden paid tribute to the broadcaster, calling her "an iconic figure who has won the hearts of listeners".

"I think it will be a dead cert that we will commission other things for her that don't involve getting up at 3am - which is one of the disadvantages of Today," she said.

BBC director of radio and music Jenny Abramsky said: "From Woman's Hour to the Today programme, Sue MacGregor has been a towering figure on the radio landscape.

'Intelligence'

Richard Sambrook, director of BBC News, added: "Sue has made a huge contribution to making Today the most influential programme on radio.

"Her intelligence and experience shine through in everything she does.

"Although she will be sorely missed by the programme and its listeners, Sue undoubtedly will continue to be an enormous asset in other work she does for the BBC."

See also:

27 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
'Enjoy the lie-in, Sue'
29 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
MacGregor to quit Today
22 Oct 00 | UK
Today programme goes online
08 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Top honour for Humphrys
30 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Digital radio campaign gathers
28 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Radio listener panels in vogue
02 Aug 00 | Wales
Humphrys rapped by BBC
27 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
MacGregor performs Today swansong
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