BBC’s Mark Urban quits amid Newsnight cuts

Newsnight diplomatic editor Mark Urban
Newsnight diplomatic editor Mark Urban - COLIN McPHERSON/CORBIS ENTERTAINMENT

Newsnight’s diplomatic editor Mark Urban has announced he is to leave the BBC amid cuts to the current affairs programme, saying he didn’t even apply for another job at the broadcaster.

Mr Urban has spent more than three decades at Broadcasting House and has been in his position since 1995.

He revealed his departure on X on Sunday, writing: “I’ll be leaving the BBC at the end of May. Newsnight in its current format will end then, so most posts will go.

“I decided not to apply for other BBC jobs. Working there for 35 years has been life-defining: an eyewitness to history collaborating with such brilliant colleagues. But it’s time for a change.”

Under his post, former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister, TV chef Nigella Lawson and former Newsnight journalist Matthew Thompson described his departure as a loss for the BBC.

McAlister, who secured the interview with the Duke of York for Newsnight and has been recently depicted by Billie Piper in the Netflix film Scoop, wrote: “Welcome to the outside, my friend.

“Thank you for always being such a brilliant correspondent of course, but such a cool, calm, clever colleague, who was always kind and had time for producers. And of course, a brilliant acerbic wit xxx.”

Lawson wrote: “It’s our loss.”

I’m bowled over by this

The BBC News press team account stated: “You will be much missed Mark!”

After his initial post, Urban wrote: “Good Lord I’m bowled over by the replies to this. You’ve brought a tear to the eye of this old bruiser! Forgive me if I don’t reply to you individually.”

The BBC previously announced a raft of changes to save the news division £7.5 million including plans to cut Newsnight to a 30-minute show and having more than half of the programme’s 60 jobs go.

Last year, the longest-serving presenter of the show Kirsty Wark said she would be departing.

The 69-year-old presenter, who will continue to present BBC shows including The Reunion and Start The Week on Radio 4, is set to step down after the general election.

The Scottish television presenter, who told the BBC of her plans before the cuts, has spent more than 30 years at Newsnight, having started in 1993.

BBC needed additional £200m in savings

Stewart Maclean, who was played by The Windsors star Richard Goulding in Scoop, departed the programme as editor to become BBC World News Content’s Africa bureau chief in Nairobi. BBC News Podcasts head Jonathan Aspinwall has since been appointed to the position of executive editor.

In 2022, Emily Maitlis announced that she would leave Newsnight to start a Global podcast called The News Agents with former BBC North America editor Jon Sopel.

They were then joined by Lewis Goodall, who had been Newsnight policy editor since January 2020.

The BBC’s annual plan, published in March, noted that the corporation was under “significant strain” and needed an additional £200 million in savings.

Following the licence fee being frozen for two years, the corporation projects that the total deficit will increase to £492 million for the 2024/25 financial year.

The corporation had already announced annual savings of £500 million before the Government revealed that it would use a lower rate of inflation to increase the licence fee in April.

The BBC has been contacted for a response about Urban’s departure.