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He's started... so he'll finish: John Humphrys quits as Mastermind host

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 06/02/2021 Jamie Fullerton
John Humphrys wearing a suit and tie: Humphrys has been the show's host since 2003 - PA © PA Humphrys has been the show's host since 2003 - PA

John Humphrys is quitting his role as host of the BBC's quiz show Mastermind after 18 years on the job.

Humphrys, 77, announced his departure in his Daily Mail column, adding that his replacement would be announced by the time the current series ends in March. "It really is time to finish," he wrote, echoing the show's catchphrase, "I've started so I'll finish."

The Welsh broadcaster, who took the Mastermind reins in 2003 and hosted more than 750 episodes of the show, added: "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, which currently airs on BBC Two, was first broadcast on BBC One in 1972 and hosted by former journalist Magnus Magnusson.

Its original run ended in 1997 before The Discovery Channel revived it in 2001, with Clive Anderson hosting.

Humphrys, who presented BBC Radio 4's Today programme for 32 years before stepping down in 2019, took over Mastermind when it returned to the BBC.

John Cooper Clarke, the poet, Josh Widdicombe, the comedian, and Monty Panesar, the ex-England cricketer, were among the many celebrities to sit on Mastermind's famous black leather chair, answering questions on specialist subjects and general knowledge.

However, Humphrys said that he would miss the non-famous contestants most. "To see the expression on their faces when you told them they'd made it through to the next round... that's been the joy of my job."

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