The Racing Card

The Bet - Who will be the next political editor for the BBC?

Huw Edwards 3-1
Adam Boulton 4-1
John Pienaar 5-1
Jeremy Vine 6-1
Jon Sopel 10-1
Jon Craig 25-1

Last week's bet on who would be the next political editor of ITN had many readers rushing to Ladbrokes to put money on. Unfortunately the bookies won't take money on this type of bet, as they fear that someone who knows will make a killing. As it turned out, nobody tipped John Sergeant who we now know will get the job. The odds here are based on my discussions with BBC insiders.

Huw Edwards has got a lot of stick as the new Six O'Clock News reader, but he was one of the best political correspondents, and if he puts on a few stone to look more like a political hack, he should walk into the job. Adam Boulton complained when I tipped him for the ITN job - not because I had him as favourite, but because I revealed his £200,000-plus salary. Unless Greg Dyke uses some of his own millions, the BBC can't afford him. John Pienaar is well regarded, and I can vouch that he doesn't take any crap from spin-doctors. But his lack of respect for the boss class may count against him.

Jeremy Vine of Newsnight is keen to get the job. No 10's favourite broadcaster Jon Sopel has been moved to Paris, but even the BBC wouldn't dare call him back. Robin Oakley, the current incumbent who is expected to retire soon, was appointed from outside the BBC and has had to put up with constant backbiting. The BBC is unlikely to do the same again. If it did, the best of the lobby hacks on TV is the political editor of the Sunday Express, Jon Craig. No women are in the frame as political reporting is the last bastion of male chauvinism. The talents of, say, Carolyn Quinn, Carol Walker, Emma Udwin and Reeta Chakrabarti will be passed over.

Charlie Whelan

This article first appeared in the 24 January 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Essay - The tyranny of the brands