- Andrew Marr
Andrew William Stevenson Marr (born 31 July 1959,
Glasgow, Scotland) is a Scottish journalistand political commentator. He edited " The Independent" for two years, until May 1998, and was the political editor for the BBCfrom 2000 until 2005. He then began hosting a political programme called "Sunday AM" (now " The Andrew Marr Show") on Sunday mornings on BBC Onefrom September 2005 onwards. In 2007, he presented a political history of post-war Britain on BBC Two, " Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain".
Andrew Marr was born and educated in
Scotlandat the High School of Dundee, Craigflower School and at Loretto, an independent boys' school in Musselburgh, East Lothian. He went on to study English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
He was once a member of the socialist group Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory and reportedly a seller of its newspaper "
Socialist Organiser" while at Cambridge, where he acquired the sobriquet of 'Red Andy'. [Michael White [http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1510798,00.html "Robinson poached from ITN as BBC name successor to Marr",] "The Guardian", 21 June 2005. Retrieved on 28 April 2007.]
Marr joined "
The Scotsman" as a trainee and junior business reporter in 1981. He became a parliamentary correspondent for the newspaper in 1984, moving to London at this time, and then a political correspondent in 1986. During this period, Marr met the political journalist Anthony Bevins, who became Marr's mentor and close friend. Bevins was responsible for Marr's first appointment at " The Independent" as a member of the newspaper's launch staff.
Marr left shortly afterwards, and joined "
The Economist", where he contributed the weekly "Bagehot" political column and ultimately became the magazine's political editor in 1988. Marr has remarked that his time at "The Economist" "changed me quite a lot" and "made me question a lot of my assumptions". [Paul Vallely [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20021102/ai_n12650308 "Profile: Andrew Marr - On a roll: the BBC's all-action, 24-hour [...] ",] "The Independent", 2 November 2002. Retrieved on 28 April 2006.]
Marr returned to "The Independent" as the newspaper's political editor in 1992, and its editor in 1996. His period as editor coincided with a particularly turbulent time at the paper. Faced with price cutting by the Murdoch-owned "Times", sales went into decline, and Marr made two attempts to arrest the slide. He made use of bold 'poster-style' front pages, and then in 1996, radically re-designed the paper along a
mainland European model, with Gill Sansheadline fonts and stories being themed and grouped together, rather than according to strict news value. This tinkering ultimately proved disastrous. The limited advertising budget meant the paper's re-launch struggled to get noticed, and when it did, it was mocked for reinterpreting its original marketing slogan 'It Is - Are You' to read 'It's changed - have you?'. The response from some was that many existing readers had indeed changed - to " The Guardian", and at the beginning of 1998, Marr was sacked after refusing to implement a further round of redundancies.
Three months later, he returned to the "Independent".
Tony O'Reillyhad increased his stake in the paper and bought out then-owners, Mirror Group. O'Reilly, who had a high regard for Marr, asked him to collaborate as co-editor with Rosie Boycott, in an arrangement whereby Marr would edit the comment pages, and Boycott would have overall control of the news pages.
Many pundits predicted the arrangement would not last and two months later, Boycott left to replace
Richard Addisas editor of the " Daily Express". Marr was sole editor again, but only for one week. Simon Kelner, who had worked on the paper when it was first launched accepted the editorship, and asked Marr to stay on as a political columnist. Kelner was not Marr's "cup of tea", Marr observed later and he left the paper for the final time in May 1998.
At the BBC
Marr wrote as a columnist for "The Daily Express" and "
The Observer", before gaining appointment as BBC political editor in May 2000, making him one of the best-known faces on British television. Like his predecessor-but-one John Cole and his famous herringbone overcoat, he soon developed a trademark style, characterised by much gesticulation, as sent up in the comedy impersonation programme "Dead Ringers" where they use ridiculously long plastic arms when portraying him. He also became known for, and was widely praised for, his ability to contextualise Westminster gossip and intrigue, and explain to viewers and listeners how it would affect their lives. A great believer in the view that 'politics matters', Marr championed the democratic process and saw it as part of his role as Political Editor of the BBC to help make politics meaningful and relevant for many people for whom politics was traditionally dull and something that happened only in Westminster corridors with middle-aged men in suits.
Among his notable "scoops" as Political Editor were the second resignation of
Peter Mandelson, and the interview in the autumn of 2004 in which Tony Blairtold him that he would not seek a fourth term as Prime Minister should he win the forthcoming general election.
During his time as political editor, Marr assumed various presentational roles, and announced in 2005 that following the 2005 General Election, he would step down as Political Editor to spend more time with his family. He was replaced as Political Editor by
Nick Robinson. In September 2005, he moved to a new role presenting the BBC's Sunday morning flagship news programme, "Sunday AM", known as "The Andrew Marr Show" since September 2007; [Barney Jones [http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/09/whats_in_a_name_1.html "What's in a name?",] BBC News 26 September 2007.] the slot was previously filled with " Breakfast with Frost" and hosted by Sir David Frost). Marr also hosts the BBC Radio 4programme " Start the Week".
In May and June, 2007, the BBC broadcast "
Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain". He presented the five one-hour documentaries, and chronicled the history of Britain from 1945 to 2007. Simultaneously, Macmillan published the book of the series, written by Marr, under the same title.
Marr has written several books on politics and journalism, notably "The Day Britain Died" (2000) — a state-of-the-nation reflection — and "My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism" (2004). The former was, in addition, a three-part television series; following "Newsnight" in the BBC2 schedules, 31 January 2000 – 2 February 2000. He has also written several articles for the British political magazine "Prospect".
Politics and bias
Marr has written about the need to remain impartial and "studiously neutral" whilst delivering news reports and "convey fact, and nothing more". [cite book | last =Marr | first =Andrew | title = My Trade: A short history of British Journalism | publisher = Macmillan | date =2004 | pages =p.279] Despite this, critics who have analysed Marr's reports assert that Marr's reporting represents an "establishment mouthpiece".Fact|date=November 2007 Marr responded to such criticisms as "pernicious anti-journalism". [
David Edwardsand David Cromwell. "Guardians of Power". p.106-7] Media analysts David Edwardsand David Cromwell, in their book "Guardians of Power", cite this statement by Marr on BBC news in 2003, after the coalition invasion of Iraq, as evidence of Marr's bias:
"I don't think anybody after this is going to be able to say of Tony Blair that he's somebody who is driven by the drift of public opinion, or focus groups, or opinion polls. He took all of those on. He said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right. And it would be entirely ungracious, even for his critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result." [
David Edwardsand David Cromwell. "Guardians of Power". p.53]
In his 2007 TV history of Britain, he showed this sequence of himself and described it as an example of people being "carried away", perhaps an oblique acceptance of the criticism discussed above.
The same critics also presented comments written by Marr in "The Observer" newspaper in 1999 as evidence of Marr's lack of impartiality during the Kosovan crisis :
"Having said that I thought it was disastrous to start with, and I do, I want to put the Macbeth option: which is that we're so steeped in blood we should go further. If we really believe Milosevic is this bad, dangerous and destabilising figure we must ratchet this up much further. We should now be saying that we intend to put in ground troops. I don't believe this stuff about the Serbian army being an undefeatable, extraordinary, superhuman group.". [
David Edwardsand David Cromwell. "Guardians of Power". p.71]
In the "
Daily Telegraph" he described himself as a "libertarian" when discussing his conflicting views on smoking bans. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;jsessionid=ANNEGFH15GZLVQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQYIV0?xml=/opinion/2007/03/28/do2803.xml Britain could be in for some turbulent times - Telegraph ] ] There have been claims that he is a closet Labour supporter; however, others, such as the conservative Andrew Neil, have stated his journalism to be perfectly objective. [Paul Vallely [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20021102/ai_n12650308 "Profile: Andrew Marr - On a roll: the BBC's all-action, 24-hour [...] ",] "The Independent", 2 November 2002. Retrieved on 28 April 2006.]
In October 2006 Andrew Marr said: "The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities, and gay people. It has a liberal bias, not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias." [cite news | last = Walters | first = Simon | title = We are biased, admit the stars of BBC News | publisher =
Daily Mail| date = 2006-10-21| url = http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=411846&in_page_id=1770]
Marr lives in
East Sheenwith his wife, the political journalist Jackie Ashleyof " The Guardian", whom he married in August 1987. She is a daughter of the Labour Life Peer, Lord Ashley of Stoke. The couple have three children.
It was revealed in "
The Independent" on 27 June 2008 by Richard Ingrams, that Marr has gained a high court injunction preventing disclosure in the press of "private information". Unusually, permission had also been granted for the existence of the injunction not to be mentioned, and was followed by all publications until " Private Eye" commented on it. [Richard Ingrams [http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/richard-ingrams/richard-ingrams-week-you-try-challenging-an-editor-armed-with-a-writ-856105.html "Richard Ingrams' Week: You try challenging an editor armed with a writ",] "The Independent", 27 June 2008. Retrieved on 29 June 2008.]
He was named Columnist of the Year 1995 and Columnist of the Year in the
British Press Awardsand received the Journalist Award in the Channel 4 Political Awards of 2001.
He was considered for honorary membership of
The Coteriefor 2007 [ Martin Bright, New Statesman, 22-01-07] . Marr was on the nominations list for the 2004 Richard Dimbleby Award at the BaftaTelevision Awards [BAFTA 2004: New Ground, Russell Davies, pg. 80] .
*As a teenager Mr Marr wrote and drew a cartoon strip for the punk fanzine "Chainsaw". [http://www.wrench.org/chainsaw.htm]
*In one of his books, Andrew Marr claims to have been mistaken for President
Vladimir Putinof Russia. He recounts that he was once lost on his way to a briefing at the Kremlinand was spotted by two soldiers, but instead of being arrested for trespassing they looked alarmed and saluted him. Marr also recounts an incident where he was approached by a man in a shop who said, "Here, you look just like that Andrew Marr... you poor bugger." [cite book | last =Marr | first =Andrew | title = My Trade: A short history of British Journalism | publisher = Macmillan | date =2004 | pages =p. 257]
*He appeared as himself in the 2005 series of "
Doctor Who" in the episodes " Aliens of London" and "World War Three". He has also appeared in several episodes of " The Amazing Mrs Pritchard".
* He appears in the novel "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" by
Paul Tordayand reads his part in the audiobook.
* He likes to keep fit, and can often be spotted jogging through open spaces in south-west London such as
Richmond Parkand Wimbledon Common.
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/biographies/biogs/news/andrewmarr.shtml Press Office — Andrew Marr] — BBC biography
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4543587.stm 'Marr quits as BBC political chief'] — BBC News
* [http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/reviews/2000/daybritaindied.htm Off The Telly: "The Day That Britain Died"] — A review of BBC2's "The Day That Britain Died"
* [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,1483979,00.html "TV is less up itself than newspapers"] —
* [http://www.zmag.org/Chomsky/interviews/9602-big-idea.html "Transcript"] - "The Big Idea" - BBC, 1996
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