Emotional Andrew Neil battled back tears today thanking This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield ahead of the launch of his GB News channel.
The veteran journalist, 72, was bidding farewell to the daytime show before the start of his new endeavour.
While he has a reputation as a fearless interrogator of politicians, he showed his softer side as his voice cracked with emotion at points.
He has appeared on This Morning regularly to contribute to the magazine programme’s topical new round-ups and debates.
But today as the section ended he said: ‘Listen, I wanted to come on today to thank you.’
Holly told him ‘Aw, well thank you! It’s been wonderful having you here this year!’ before Phillip quizzed ‘What are you thanking us for?’.
Andrew, who hinted Piers Morgan was in discussions to join him, was visibly emotional and his voice wavered as he told them ‘For being so kind, wonderful’.
As Phillip wished him the best of luck, Holly joked ‘Thank you, hope it goes well, thank you, you are soft sometimes’.
Phillip wished him the best of luck, Holly joked ‘Thank you, you are soft sometimes’ in reference to his serious reputation
He showed his softer side as he bid farewell to This Morning and Holly and Phillip earlier today and appeared to be emotional
GB News will launch at 8pm on June 13 with a special programme, it has been confirmed.
The new channel, of which Andrew is the chairman, will kick off with a show called Welcome To GB News.
It was previously announced that former Daily Politics presenter Neil will lead the channel’s evening line-up with a prime-time news and interview programme.
Other high-profile signings to the news network include ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy, the MailOnline’s Dan Wootton and ex-Sky broadcaster Colin Brazier.
A morning show called The Great British Breakfast will feature a selection of hosts including former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, Darren McCaffrey and Rosie Wright, who will all work across other programmes and stories.
Businesswoman and former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry will host Dewbs & Co every weeknight.
Wootton, known for his role in breaking the story of Megxit, will present Tonight Live With Dan Wootton five nights a week, while broadcaster Nana Akua will host Tonight Live With Nana Akua.
Broadcaster and author Neil Oliver, known for programmes including Coast and A History Of Ancient Britain, will host Neil Oliver Live.
The new channel, chaired by veteran political interviewer Neil, will kick off with a show called Welcome To GB News (pictured: tweet from news network confirming the launch date)
Other high-profile signings to the news network include ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy (pictured right) and the MailOnline’s Dan Wootton (left, in August 2018)
Former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart (pictured above) will anchor Alastair Stewart And Friends, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs
And Andrew Doyle will host Free Speech Nation, described by the channel as ‘a fearless filleting of the country’s thorniest debates’.
Former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart will anchor Alastair Stewart And Friends, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs.
Brazier and social commentator Mercy Muroki will host a joint show, as will former Labour MP Gloria De Piero and economist Liam Halligan.
McCoy and Alex Phillips will also co-host an afternoon programme.
News UK owner Rupert Murdoch had plans last year to launch a channel of his own, which would have been of similar content as a challenger to the left-leaning news coverage offered by the BBC, but has since decided it was not ‘commercially viable’.
The channel will have an on-demand streaming service available on Sky, Virgin Media, Youview and Freesat and will air on Freeview channel 236.
Andrew Neil: The gruff ex-BBC journalist famous for skewering politicians in brutal interviews who now wants to ‘shake up’ news industry with his new station
Andrew Neil earned a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to interviews, with many a politician wilting under his unrelenting examinations.
The journalism heavyweight is the former UK editor of the Economist and served as editor of The Sunday Times from 1983 for 11 years.
He is the chairman of the company behind the Spectator and has held a slew of other jobs in the media, including roles with Sky, Fox and Al Jazeera.
Neil is perhaps best known for his time at the BBC where he fronted several live political programmes.
From early 2003, Neil presented live programmes This Week on BBC One and Daily Politics on BBC Two. Daily Politics ended in 2018 and was replaced by Politics Live, which Neil also presented until he left the corporation.
From 2007 to 2010, he presented the weekly Straight Talk with Andrew Neil political interview programme on the BBC News channel.
He also fronted Sunday Politics between 2012 and 2017 and in later years became synonymous for his part in the BBC’s election coverage.
Former BBC journalist Andrew Neil earned a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to interviews, with many a politician wilting under his unrelenting examinations
He played a key role in the coverage for the 2010 and 2015 elections, interviewing politicians and celebrities and also provided commentary for the US election in 2016.
In 2017, he interviewed all five political party leaders in a series that was repeated in 2019 – though Conservative leader Boris Johnson controversially avoided Neil.
Neil will lead new 24-hour news channel to rival BBC and Sky aiming to reach those who feel ‘underserved and unheard’ by the media.
The broadcaster will be the face and chairman of GB News, signalling the end of his relationship with the BBC, where he has been one of the most respected political interviewers.
As well as being appointed chairman, broadcaster and former Sunday Times editor Neil, 71, will host a flagship evening programme in primetime.
He 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.’
Some of Neil’s most memorable moments:
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.’
Neil interviewed Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson in a series of gripping interviews in the run-up to the 2019 election. Boris Johnson famously avoided sitting down with him
‘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 in 2019.
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.
Andrew Neil clashed with US conservative commentator Ben Shapiro on the BBC’s Politics Live in 2019 in a brutal interview
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.’
Inside the TV newsroom bidding to ‘shake up’ broadcasting: First look at headquarters of GB News before its launch on Sunday in battle with Sky News and BBC for viewers
GB News’ key presenters have been pictured in futuristic behind the scenes pictures of the studio ahead of the new channel launching this weekend.
The channel, chaired by veteran political interviewer Andrew Neil, launches on June 13 with a special programme at 8pm titled Welcome To GB News.
GB News has signed up a roster of high-profile talent, including ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy, MailOnline columnists Dan Wootton, and ex-Sky broadcaster Colin Brazier.
Other names to feature on air include former Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, Darren McCaffrey and Rosie Wright, who will host morning show The Great British Breakfast, while also working on other programmes.
It will be available to watch in HD on Sky channel 515 and Virgin Media’s channel 626, as well as also showing on Freeview and YouView channel 236, Freesat channel 216 and online.
The news channel, launched as a rival to the news and current affairs offerings on the likes of BBC and Sky, has also signed up businesswoman and former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry.
Broadcaster and author Neil Oliver, known for programmes including Coast and A History Of Ancient Britain, will host Neil Oliver Live, while Andrew Doyle will host Free Speech Nation.
Former ITV presenter Alastair Stewart will anchor Alastair Stewart And Friends, featuring conversation and analysis of current affairs.economist
Economist Liam Halligan, former Labour MP Gloria De Piero, Mercy Muroki and Colin Brazier seen for first time in the studio
The studio of British television news channel GB News which is under construction at The Point in Paddington, north London
Computers and TV monitors from the offices of new British television news channel GB News which is under construction
Producers work at their desks as they prepare to go live this weekend as GB News begins to broadcast to the nation
The channel will launch at 8pm on June 13 with a special programme called Welcome To GB News amid much fanfare
Brazier and social commentator Mercy Muroki will host a joint show, as will former Labour MP Gloria De Piero and economist Liam Halligan.
GB News has also recruited a team of regional reporters to help serve its mission of involving ‘non-metropolitan voices in the national conversation’.
Director of news and programmes John McAndrew said: ‘It’s a huge task to launch even one new programme, never mind a whole channel to run 18 hours a day.
‘The team has been working flat out and of course there’s a sense of nervous excitement, but mostly excitement. We can’t wait to get started now.’
The intriguing new pictures show the new set which looks very futuristic with its black decor and neon lit stage
The behind the scenes pictures give a hint on how the shows on the new channel might look when it finally launches this week
A two chair and table set up appears to be a second stage for face-to-face interviews with individual people
Former Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil will lead the channel’s evening line-up with a prime-time news and interviews
Other high-profile signings to the channel include ex-BBC presenter Simon McCoy and MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton
News kid on the block
Andrew Neil will lead new 24-hour news channel to rival BBC and Sky aiming to reach those who feel ‘unheard’ by the media. He will present a show four nights a week.
It has brought in big names ahead of its launch, including signing Simon McCoy, Sky News anchor Colin Brazier and new MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton.
Neil is the face and chairman of GB News, announcing its birth last year while also signalling the end of his relationship with the BBC, where he has been one of the most respected political interviewers.
Global media and entertainment company Discovery, Inc is the lead investor. GB News will feature more than 6,500 hours of content a year, made exclusively for the channel, which has secured broadcasting licences from Ofcom.
It has been founded by media executives Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider.
They plan for the channel to reach 96% of British television households via Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media.
Following his departure from Good Morning Britain, reports have suggested Piers Morgan could be another addition to the GB News line-up.
Neil told the Evening Standard it would ‘be nice to have him’, adding: ‘But he’s got his own idea of what he is worth and we have a slightly different idea of what he’s worth.
‘He is in a lucky situation because ITV are continuing to pay him a tonne of money so he doesn’t have to do anything in the short run.
‘I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere else in the UK. If he has a huge American offer that’s a different matter.
‘No-one in the UK can compete with that, but if he’s going to do more UK news TV I hope it will be with us.’
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Neil praised the launch line-up of presenters as representative of ‘modern Britain’.
He said: ‘On Sunday night we hope to launch GB News, a new channel.
‘It is quite fraught, as you can imagine, trying to do this in the middle of a pandemic, but we are getting there.
‘We are using lots of the latest new technology, which will be great.
‘But, as you know, new technology doesn’t always work first time round and all the journalists and technicians have got to get used to it.
‘So it is a challenge, but I launched Sky News way back in 1989 so we are used to it.
‘The one thing that has been great is the line-up of presenters. They are Britain, they are modern Britain.’
The GB News studios are located in Paddington, west London.