Kirsty Wark warns more ‘pain’ to come at BBC after Newsnight cuts

Newsnight’s longest-serving presenter Kirsty Wark has warned that “a lot of pain” is yet come at the BBC after cuts to the current affairs programme.

Wark, 69, who is stepping down from the show after the next general election, was speaking ahead of Newsnight being reduced to a half-hour programme on Friday.

The BBC previously announced a raft of changes to save the news division £7.5 million including plans to cut more than half of the programme’s staff of about 60.

Wark told BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show: “I’m deeply sad that we are losing all of these incredible people that have worked on the programme but they are going forth and multiplying elsewhere, they’re still going to be in the BBC.

“And we can call, that’s the theory, on their services if and when we need them, and of course we have (political editor) Nick Watt and who better to take us through the election.”

She added that broadcasting has to “evolve”, adding: “The cuts made in the programme are only a tiny portion of the cuts that are going to have to be made in news, there’s a lot of pain to come.

“And what we’re doing is we’re kind of adjusting to that pain.”

Wark also agreed that it had become “harder” to persuade politicians to appear on the programme.

She added: “I think it’s quite interesting for the election, because I understand this thing about wanting an easier ride but actually, if you can deal with a tougher interview, a forensic interview, I think that is a good thing for a politician.”

The Scottish broadcaster also said the programme can easily travel to other parts of the country to make it easier for politicians in local areas to appear during an election.

She defended the show’s viewing figures, saying numbers soar during a big story as Newsnight is still the place for “in-depth analysis”.

Wark will continue to present BBC shows including The Reunion and Start The Week on Radio 4.

Newsnight has seen the exit of diplomatic editor Mark Urban and editor Stewart Maclean in 2023 and 2024.

V&A summer party
Emily Maitlis (Aaron Chown/PA)

In 2022, Emily Maitlis, who grilled the Duke of York in a Newsnight interview which was turned into the Netflix film Scoop, announced she was leaving.

She joined Global podcast The News Agents with former BBC North America editor Jon Sopel, and they were joined by Lewis Goodall, who had been Newsnight policy editor since January 2020.

BBC News Podcasts head Jonathan Aspinwall has since been appointed as executive editor for Newsnight.