Andrew Marr was unceremoniously dropped from the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s death despite being promised before he left for a rival broadcaster that the BBC would air his documentary about the former monarch.
His agent said “the BBC apparently believes that hearing his voice would upset its viewers” and it replaced him with Kirsty Young at the last minute.
Marr quit the BBC earlier this year to present a show on the radio station LBCbecoming part of an exodus of prominent BBC presenters to the commercial media company Global.
According to sources at the BBC, Marr believed top executives had promised to maintain his voiceover on the documentary – entitled A Tribute to Her Majesty the Queen – which he had been working on for some time. A separate BBC source insisted the deal had only been to include his contribution until the end of August.
Marr was said to be saddened and to have complained widely that he had been cut out of the BBC’s coverage, seemingly as punishment for leaving. The programme was eventually broadcast on BBC One on Friday night, where it attracted 4 million viewers.
“Andrew Marr doesn’t believe that the public is at all interested in which journalists say exactly what, where, at this solemn time. He is slightly surprised that the BBC apparently believes that hearing his voice would upset its viewers,” said his agent, Mary Greenham, in a statement first provided to the Times.
“Andrew is philosophical and is focusing all his attention on helping get the best possible coverage of these extraordinary days for his current employers.”
Marr previously wrote a book about the monarch entitled The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People. He was presenting on LBC when news of the Queen’s death broke on Thursday evening and wrote a piece paying tribute to the former monarch. He said she “pushed down her personality – the laughter lines around her face tell you what she’s like in private – because for her it was never about her”.
Much of the media coverage of the Queen’s death has been prepared, tweaked and tweaked again, with the BBC holding regular rehearsals on how to cover her death. For decades, broadcasters and newspapers have stored up documentaries, obituaries and tributes, ready to deploy when she died. Updating these has been going on for so long that chunks of the recent coverage will have been produced by journalists who have since died. Other documentaries will have had to be binned altogether because they were so out of date.
The BBC has relied on a small pool of household-name presenters for its coverage, which has been helmed by Huw Edwards – who with his contract up for renewal has himself been pictured holding talks at Global’s central London headquarters.
Although it is seen as uncouth to do so publicly, news presenters on all the major channels have been pushing to play a role in the coverage. The monarch’s death has boosted viewing figures for rolling news to a level that has rarely been seen in recent years, and being part of the coverage can elevate an individual’s career.