Andrew Neil will co-host the BBC's US election night coverage

Andrew Neil will co-host the BBC’s US election night coverage alongside presenter Katty Kay in his last job for corporation before quitting to launch rival 24 hour news channel

  • Andrew Neil, 71, will front BBC US Election 2020 from London with Katty Kay
  • Neil will host interviews in programme, which will air at 11.30pm on November 3
  • He described campaign as ‘like no other in long history of America’s democracy’ 
  • It will be broadcaster’s last job for BBC before he becomes chairman of GB News

Andrew Neil will co-host the BBC’s US election night coverage in his last job for the corporation before quitting to launch a rival 24 hour news channel.

The 71-year-old broadcaster, who is leaving the BBC to launch GB News, is set to front BBC US Election 2020 with Katty Kay.

The programme will air on BBC One, BBC News Channel, BBC World News and BBC iPlayer from 11.30pm on Tuesday November 3.

Kay will broadcast from Washington, while Neil will provide interviews and analysis from London.

Andrew Neil (pictured above), 71, will co-host the BBC’s US election night coverage from London. The programme will air from 11.30pm on Tuesday November 3

The TV presenter will lead a new 24-hour news channel to rival the BBC and Sky, which aims to reach those who feel ‘under-served and unheard’ by the media. 

Kay, who covers US politics for the corporation, said: ‘It will be a hard-fought contest right to the end, and I’m excited to bring global BBC audiences the story on election night and in the days after.

‘When trustworthy information is hard to come by, we at the BBC are committed to fairly and accurately reporting events, whatever happens.’

Neil said: ‘This has been a presidential campaign like no other in the long history of America’s democracy. And not just because it’s being fought in the midst of a pandemic.

‘In many ways, it’s turned into a referendum on Donald Trump. Do you want to continue with four more years of the Trump rollercoaster? Or would you prefer a return to something approaching normal with mainstream Democrat Joe Biden? 

‘That’s the choice Americans must make on November 3.’

Broadcasters Jon Sopel and Clive Myrie will be with the Trump and Biden campaigns on election night, and Emily Maitlis and Nick Bryant will report from key battleground states.

Maitlis will also present Newsnight from Washington for the week.

Neil will present the US election night coverage alongside Katty Kay, above, who will broadcast from Washington. She said: ‘It will be a hard-fought contest right to the end’

On November 4, Laura Trevelyan, Matthew Amroliwala and Reeta Chakrabarti will take over from 9am, with coverage running until 1pm on BBC One – there will be no BBC Breakfast that morning.

Coverage will continue on the BBC News Channel, BBC World News and BBC iPlayer.

BBC head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro said: ‘The US presidential election is one of the world’s most important political events, and always has a big impact on politics across the world.

‘Our goal is to make sure that we provide our audiences with the complete picture over the next three weeks.

‘On election night, Katty and Andrew will bring an incredible level of experience, knowledge and authority from both sides of the Atlantic.’

There will also be coverage on BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and the World Service.

The BBC confirmed this summer that Neil’s self-titled show would not return to TV screens after it came off air during the pandemic (file photo)

Plans are in place for GB News to launch early next year and, as well as being appointed chairman, Neil will host a flagship evening programme in primetime, which will lead the programming line-up.

Neil previously said: ‘GB News is the most exciting thing to happen in British television news for more than 20 years.

‘We will champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area.’

The BBC confirmed this summer that Neil’s self-titled show would not return to TV screens after it came off air during the pandemic.

It said at the time it was in discussions about a new interview series with Neil.

Political interviewer and publisher Neil earlier dismissed speculation that he was in the running to be the next BBC chairman, saying on Twitter that he has ‘no interest in the job’. 

GB News said it hopes to create at least 120 positions, including more than 100 journalists in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the channel.

It will feature more than 6,500 hours of content a year, made exclusively for the channel, which has secured broadcasting licences from Ofcom.  

The BBC previously thanked Neil for his work at the corporation and wished him luck in his new role.

A statement following his initial announcement said: ‘We’d like to give our heartfelt thanks to Andrew for his many years of work for the BBC, during which he’s informed and entertained millions of viewers.

‘From his early broadcasting days on Despatch Box in the 1990s to his recent forensic and agenda-setting political interviews, be has proved a formidable and hugely talented broadcaster.

‘For years, he was at the heart of the irreverent and much-loved This Week and played a key role in the Daily and Sunday Politics, Politics Live and the BBC’s general election coverage.

‘We wish Andrew every success in his new role; we’re sorry the US election coverage will be his last BBC presentation work for the foreseeable future but he will always be welcome at the BBC.’

From the ‘Empty Chair’ to Owen Jones: Some of Andrew Neil’s ‘greatest hits’ at the BBC

Andrew Neil ahead of his interview with Boris Johnson prior to the election

The ‘Empty Chair’: Neil vs Boris Johnson, December 2019

Mr Neil delivered a direct interview challenge to Boris Johnson during the 2019 General Election, telling him it was ‘not too late’ to accept his invitation to chat before the poll.

Mr Johnson had refused to be interviewed by Mr Neil, who had spoken with Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson.

During an ’empty chair’ moment,Mr Neil said: ‘There is of course still one to be done, Boris Johnson. We have been asking him for weeks now to give us a date, a time, a venue. As of now, none has been forthcoming.’ 

‘It is not too late. We have an interview prepared. Oven-ready, as Mr Johnson likes to say. The theme running through our questions is trust – and why at so many times in his career, in politics and journalism, critics and sometimes even those close to him have deemed him to be untrustworthy. 

‘It is, of course, relevant to what he is promising us all now.’

Neil vs Ben Shapiro: May 2019

Mr Neil clashed with US conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on the BBC’s Politics Live last year.

Mr Shapiro was subjected to a tough interview by Mr Neil about previous remarks he had made, including ‘Israelis like to build, Arabs like to bomb crap’ and his support for new abortion laws in Georgia.

The American, formerly of Breitbart, then accused Mr Neil of bias and suggested abortions after more than six weeks of pregnancy were brutal.

‘You purport to be an objective journalist,’ Mr Shapiro said. ‘The BBC purports to be an objective, down-the-middle network. It obviously is not, it never has been, and you as a journalist are proceeding to call one side of the political aisle ignorant, barbaric and sending us back to the dark ages.’

Mr Shapiro later said that he had been ‘destroyed’ by Mr Neil in the interview.

Neil vs Owen Jones: January 2019 

Mr Neil and commentator Owen Jones clashed in a row during the broadcast of the This Week programme.

The row began after Mr Jones made a film about far-Right protesters who harassed him and other journalists.

During the debate, Mr Jones raised Mr Neil’s work outside his role at the BBC as chairman of the Press Holdings media group which publishes the weekly magazine The Spectator.

As the debate drew to a close Mr Jones claimed the editorial line of The Spectator and other papers legitimised some far-Right views, provoking an angry response from Mr Neil.

Mr Neil told Mr Jones: ‘Your smears and lies about me are not going to be dealt with tonight so just move off it.’ 

Neil vs Paris jihadists: November 2015

Mr Neil delivered a rousing speech against the Paris attackers who ‘slaughtered 132 innocents to prove the future belongs to them, rather than a civilisation like France’. 

In his rousing message, he listed the artists and theorists who shaped French culture and who overshadow ISIS’s beliefs and acts.

‘I can’t say I fancy their chances. France. The country of Descartes, Monet, Sartre Rousseau to Camus, Renoir, Berlioz, Daft Punk, Zizou Zidane,’ he said. ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité and crème Brulee.

‘Versus what? Beheadings, crucifixions, amputations, slavery, mass murder, medieval squalor and a death cult barbarity that would shame the Middle Ages.’

He then thundered: ‘I think the outcome is pretty clear to everyone but you. You will lose. In a thousand year’s time, Paris, that glorious city of lights, will still be shining bright as will every other city like it. And you will be as dust, along with the ragbag of fascist Nazis and Stalinists that previously dared to challenge democracy and failed.’ 

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