IT is set to be one of the events of the autumn, with the details kept under wraps till now. Not Brexit, or the publication of David Cameron’s memoir (Exclusive: “It Wasn’t My Fault,” says man whose fault it was), but the date when John Humphrys does his final Today show.

Having announced his departure way back in February, he has been as quick as James Brown in actually leaving the stage. But a week today looks set to be the big one, with Humphrys expected to bow out with an interview with Cameron, whose book is out on September 19.

It has been quite a shift for the 76-year-old Welshman. Decades of getting up at silly o’clock to interview the great, good, and not so good. Whatever you think of him, national treasure or overpaid grump who should have gone years ago, anyone deserves a lie-in after 32 years of early starts.

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But what is this? One of his oppos on the Today team has launched a defence of his colleague, saying he is the victim of ageism. Justin Webb, writing in the Radio Times, said: “There are plenty who don't like him, who think he's gone on too long, who want him 'pensioned off' or 'put out of his misery', or whatever the phrase is they use to suggest that being a man in his 70s on air is somehow an affront. Most of these folks would see themselves as impeccable anti-sexists and anti-racists, but ageism is alive and well and apparently deeply acceptable in the anti-John movement.”

Save the Harrumphing One is, on the face of it, a strange cause to take up, the broadcast news equivalent of the fight to free Deirdre in Coronation Street. Humphrys has been extremely well paid down the years for doing a job that hardly compares with delivering the post, cleaning, going down the mines, or one of the many other occupations involving unsocial hours. He is lucky to have a choice in what he does, and when he goes. Personally, his voice after the 6am pips is enough to have me reaching for the dial. Too much interrupting and bluster, and don’t get me started on his arts interviews, which consist mostly of his amazement that such subjects are worthy of discussion.

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But is he a victim of ageism? Without a doubt. All we can say, mate, is welcome to the club that no one wants to belong to, but one day will. There are a lot of us on the membership roll, the majority of us women. We have certain advantages over the male membership in that we have longer to get used to the invisibility that comes with age. Older women would make the best secret agents in the world, if only security service chiefs could pick them out.

When club members, male and female, are not being ignored, their time is spent battling the notion that they are useless relics who should get lost and make way for the next generation. After all, the mortgage is paid and they don’t need the money, do they? They’re better off at home, not hanging around the workplace, taking jobs and houses that should go to people more deserving. It is indeed amazing, and thoroughly depressing, that the insults hurled at women, migrants, disabled people and other excluded groups down the years, which would now rightly attract howls of contempt and even police action, are still somehow deemed acceptable when directed at older people.

Besides the unfairness of it all, think of the experience going to waste, the expertise untapped. It is not that older people have a monopoly on such things, but such wholesale prejudice on the grounds of age surely means society is missing out on valuable contributions. Look around you: does it seem as though everything is fine and dandy, or could we do with a few more shoulders to the wheel?

Apart from the whiff of ageism that surrounds Humphrys’ departure, there is another reason to regret his going. Humphrys is one of the last working class heroes in journalism, and I don’t mean that in a cynical, John Lennon/Monty Python, “I grew up in a shoebox in the middle of a motorway” kind of way. The son of a working class parents, he left education at 15 to become a reporter on the local paper, and from there worked his way up to the BBC and a career that spanned the world.

Contrast his start in life with the solidly middle class, privately educated, beginnings of his co-presenters. In background and income, they are representative of a tiny minority in this country. And yes, it does matter, in journalism and every other field of work, but particularly in the media.

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As Webb, to his credit, acknowledges, the one area where the BBC and other organisations fall down is in the recruitment of working class youngsters, or as he calls them, “mouthy, white working-class kids with attitude”. The kind of kid like young Humphrys from Splott in Cardiff.

No one is saying that only working class youngsters should report on matters affecting the working class. A general reporter should be able to talk to anyone and turn their hand to any story. But if the experience of growing up poor and disadvantaged is not there in the collective “mind” of a newsroom then stories that should be covered are ignored, or done badly. The poor and working class are seen as “other” rather than part of society as we all are, and thus kept at a distance. It is like trying to report on Australia from London, or for that matter Glasgow from London.

The media has always been a hotbed of nepotism, but it was also a trade that welcomed working class youngsters. If they were good enough, and had ambition, they could go far.

Today, getting through the door is a case of who you know and how much your parents can subsidise you through the usually unpaid internships on offer. As a result, instead of nation speaking unto nation, or a broad range of journalists reporting on, and hearing from, society, we have an elite preaching to an elite. And they wonder how the Brexit vote happened. Or why half of Scotland wants to be independent.

There are exceptions. If you want to see some genuinely eye opening and journalism from a working-class kid with attitude, try Darren McGarvey’s Scotland on BBC Scotland (he is not a kid, but he is from where I'm standing on the age spectrum).

Local papers are still home to working class youngsters with ambition. But they remain the exceptions, especially in London, and if things do not change then newspapers and broadcasters will become even more unrepresentative of the societies they report on. Enjoy the later starts, Mr Humphrys, and let us hope we see and hear your likes again.