BBC presenter John Humphrys quizzed on £600,000-plus pay: "I'm not sure I could explain it"

William Turvill
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John Humphrys (middle right) was paid between £600,000 and £649,000 (Source: Getty)

Today programme and Mastermind presenter John Humphrys has admitted he would struggle to explain his BBC salary to a member of the public.

He told (who else?) the BBC, or BBC Newsnight specifically: “I’m not sure I could explain it, to be absolutely honest.”

It emerged yesterday that Humprhys earns between £600,000 and £649,999 for his work at the BBC. The corporation was forced to disclose the salary bands of on-screen talent paid £150,000 or more.

This compared with between £200,000 and £249,999 earned by his Today presenter colleague Mishal Husain. Humphrys yesterday described this disparity as “strange”.

Seeking to explain his salary to Newsnight, Humphrys added: “I suppose I would say I have been with the BBC for a very long time – as in 50 years. I’ve been with the Today programme for 30 years. When I joined the BBC I was earning a couple of grand a year, and gradually over the years that followed – the many, many years that followed – I earned more and more.

“And then a few things happened, such as ITN coming along. And them poaching us, and we poaching them, their newscasters in particular. That was when I took a big jump, I suppose, when I became a news reader.

“I didn’t ask for it, but they suggested to me that I should go freelance because I’d been on the staff as a foreign correspondent and all the rest of it. And so that meant I got a huge lift in my salary, unasked for it has to be said.

“And then when I came to the Today programme 30 years ago I got another bit of a lift. And then various other things happened. And it’s king of gone up and up and up.”

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