ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus leads Christmas lineup of R4 Today Guest Editors

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As part of BBC Radio and BBC Sounds Christmas plans, Radio 4’s Today programme has announced this year’s lineup of Guest Editors, with seven taking over the programme during the festive period, including ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, Former Iran detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and chef Jamie Oliver.

For the past 19 years, the programme has handed over the editorial reins to high-profile public figures during the week between Christmas and New Year.

This year’s lineup includes:

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – British-Iranian national who was detained in Iran
  • Björn Ulvaeus – ABBA legend
  • Jamie Oliver – Chef and campaigner
  • Sir Jeremy Fleming – Director of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
  • Dame Sharon White – Chairman of John Lewis Partnership
  • Lord Botham – Crossbench Peer, UK Trade Envoy to Australia and former cricketer
  • Anne-Marie Imafidon – Technologist, CEO and author

They will each guest edit Radio 4’s Today programme between 26 December and 2 January. Each programme will include an interview with the Guest Editor.

Kicking off the festive takeover on Boxing Day will be Lord Botham, the former cricketer and chair of Durham County Cricket Club. 

Lord Botham

Lord Botham, who supports a range of charities through ‘Beefy’s Charity Foundation’, will look at advances in the treatment and diagnosis of childhood leukaemia that have come about since he first started charitable fundraising for the cause in 1985.

Jamie Oliver

Chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver, who on Today recently called for all children in households on universal credit to be given free school meals, will use his programme to look for big ideas to improve child health and explore if doing good is good business. 

His programme will feature some of the politicians he has persuaded over his nearly two decades of campaigning to make meaningful change on child obesity and school meals.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who spent six years arbitrarily detained in Iran, will explore how you hold onto freedom in difficult times for her guest edit. The programme will also feature reporting on Iran and look at government’s efforts to free UK prisoners.

Sir Jeremy Fleming

Sir Jeremy Fleming is the first Director of GCHQ to edit Today. His programme will explore the opportunities and risks of data – from intelligence to competitive sport.

Björn Ulvaeus

Björn Ulvaeus will consider the future of Europe. He will also look ahead to Eurovision 2023 and, after the launch of the ABBA Voyage concert in London, explore why the song contest and ABBA mean so much to the LGBTQ+ community. 

Björn and fellow ABBA legend, Benny, are creating a new arrangement of a track from ABBA’s 2021 album, Voyage, which will be recorded with a choir and broadcast as part of his programme.

Anne-Marie Imafidon

Taking the helm on New Year’s Eve will be Anne-Marie Imafidon, President of the British Science Association and author of ‘She’s in CTRL: How women can take back tech’. Anne-Marie first appeared on Today at the age of 11 when she was interviewed about taking her GCSEs early. 

For her guest edit she wants to share new perspectives on science, problem solving and comedy.

Dame Sharon White

Closing the Guest Editor series this year will be Sharon White, Chairman of John Lewis. She will look at how we can support young people leaving the care system into employment.

Each editor will have the support of Today producers and reporters to bring their ideas to air and to make sure they adhere to BBC editorial guidelines.

Owenna Griffiths, Editor of the Today programme, said: “For nearly 20 years the Guest Editors have transformed Christmas on Today, creating some of the most memorable moments in the programme’s rich history along the way. 

“This year is no different and I’m enormously grateful these Guest Editors have given up their time to bring new stories, unexpected perspectives and a little festive cheer to the Today audience.”

The Today programme has welcomed various Guest Editors over the years, including Prince Harry, Greta Thunberg, David Hockney, Angelina Jolie, Raheem Stirling, Prue Leith, Benjamin Zephaniah, Melinda Gates, George the Poet, Jarvis Cocker, Lewis Hamilton and Professor Stephen Hawking.

Transmission details

Monday 26 December – Monday 2 January (no programme on Sunday)

Monday to Friday 6-9am; Saturday 7-9am