Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Today It's a Tearful Goodbye from Sue. Tomorrow She Will Listen from Her Bed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Today It's a Tearful Goodbye from Sue. Tomorrow She Will Listen from Her Bed

Article excerpt

Byline: VALENTINE LOW

SUE MacGREGOR'S two alarms clocks went off at 2.50am today, just as they have done every day of her working life for the last 18 years.

After a quick shower and a black coffee, it was off to BBC Radio Four's Today programme studio for three hours of news, interviews and Thought For The Day. The sports team made their usual terrible jokes, and John Humphrys got the time wrong (again).

But never again. Not for Sue MacGregor, at least: today the broadcaster with one of the best-known and best-loved voices on radio presented her last edition of the Today programme. It would be nice to report that she signed off as the consummate professional, all poise and calmness under pressure.

Nice, but not entirely true.

"I crashed the pips," she said afterwards, "which is a hanging offence in broadcasting.

They'll never ask me back!"

In layman's language, she was so busy at the ending of the programme saying her emotional farewells and thanking listeners for their emails, that she quite missed the fact that it was nine o'clock.

"I've only got five seconds to go, so I've got to say that's about it from me. Our editors were - I cannot remember who they were - they were Victoria and Nick."

"Goodbye," interrupted a brisk male voice, which was almost undoubtedly Humphrys. "Goodbye," said MacGregor. By this time, there was a bit of a tear in her eye.

In the closing minutes of the programme listeners were treated to a montage of some of her most memorable Today moments, including broadcasts from when the Berlin Wall came down and dispatches from South Africa - where she was educated - during the dismantling of apartheid.

"I thought, 'This is going to be Sue's worst moment,'" she said. "In fact it was a rather blub-inducing, lovely package of people saying nice things, which I truly was not expecting. I found that quite difficult to deal with. I genuinely had a tear. I'm so well-trained to stay cool that maybe the listeners didn't notice anything. …

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