IT may have been my imagination, but John Humphrys, fresh from announcing that he was leaving the Today programme, was sounding remarkably chipper yesterday. After 32 years of pre-dawn starts, one can hardly begrudge him some demob happiness.
Trouble was, his co-presenter, Nick Robinson, had his perkiness dial turned up to 11 as well. It was as if he was already auditioning for the lead presenter slot. The entire programme became an enthusiasm contest, each man’s words coming a little too fast, the laughter teetering on the brink of hysteria. And this was before the interview with a naked Cambridge economics professor who compared Brexit to the emperor with no clothes (such clever folk those Oxbridge lot).
My first reaction on hearing of Humphrys quitting was pure Brenda from Bristol’s General Election response. Yes, Brenda, another one. We have not long finished the battle to replace Dimbleby on Question Time, and now we are into the bun fight to succeed Humphrys. 
In common with many a licence fee payer, you might be wondering why anyone has to join Mishal Husain, Robinson, Justin Webb and Martha Kearney.Without Humphrys there is a perfect gender split.  Moreover, Good Morning Scotland presenters do the same three hour show with a fraction of the staff. It seems odd that London needs more than double the number of bodies, though Today does have a Saturday programme. Given any replacement will want to be on the same whack as Humphrys, whose estimated salary, after a number of self-inflicted pay cuts, is £250,000-£300,000, not filling the job is an obvious way for Auntie to save money. A quarter of a million could pay for a fair few TV licences for the over-75s.
But who are we kidding? Humphrys will be replaced, if for no other reason than it will have to be made clear who does the big political interview at 08.10. It would never do to hear Kearney and Robinson  shoving each other away from the microphone while some useless Minister looks on, unable to believe his luck at getting such an easy ride.
Every news show needs a curmudgeon-in-chief, a beast as big as those who prowl the political jungle. Whatever his faults, and Humphrys has plenty, from his epic blustering to his near ceaseless interrupting (and don’t get me started on his chuckling through science items), he is no pushover. As he showed when interviewing his now former boss, George Entwistle, he has the “killer” streak the job occasionally requires.
Then again, perhaps BBC chiefs should come at the task of replacing him from a different direction. The corporation is forever trying to reach new, younger audiences by bringing on fresh talent from places the BBC has never looked before. With that in mind, here are five possibles to add to the interview list.
1. Liam Neeson: If he does not get answers he will roam Westminster with a cosh, looking for white, male, mediocre, ministerial-looking types to duff up. Should scare the bejeezus out of the Establishment.
2. A Glasgow taxi driver: The font of all human knowledge, or thinks he is, can be expected to verbally batter interviewees into submission. Disadvantage: whatever it says on the calendar, it is 1972 with our man.
3. Alan Carr: Sure to bring some much needed laughs. Just picturing him across the desk from Pete Wishart raises a smile.
4. Richard Madden, aka the Bodyguard: No need for sound;  streamed pictures of Paisley’s finest, looking attractively wounded by the sheer injustice of life, will do.
5. John Humphrys: A surprise choice, granted, but you don’t seriously believe he is giving up this easily, do you? Come the day, BBC bosses will have to send in a specialist extraction team to pry his fingers from the keyboard. I’m thinking three-day siege at least.
So take a chill pill, Martha. Cool those jets, Nick. This is going to be a long haul.


IS there a duvet in the world big enough for Liam Neeson to hide under?
After trying to explain why, as he had earlier told an interviewer for The Independent, he once walked the streets looking for a black man to murder, any black man, he is nowhere to be seen.
The New York premiere of his new movie, Cold Pursuit, had to be cancelled, which does not bode well for the picture’s UK opening at the end of the month. 
Leeson’s confession was both appalling and amazing. Appalling for obvious reasons (imagine if he had said a woman, or a member of a religious grouping), and amazing because movie stars rarely say anything in interviews any more. Such are the time constraints on journalists, and the way some publicists are only too quick to ostracise writers who do not play the fawning game, most celebrity interviews are a yawn.
Neeson’s interview with a reporter who would not be bowed has put such encounters back on the map, though I don’t expect celebs will be celebrating.


DON’T mess with a feminist dad. That’s the takeaway from Simon Kemp’s tussle with JD Sports and the SFA over the advertising of the new Scotland strip for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in June.
The father of two from Lochgilphead wanted to buy shirts for his son and daughter to wear when the family went to the tournament in France. While the boys and men in the ads were shown looking sporty, the female model was wearing ripped jeans, sitting on a chair, legs akimbo, staring moodily into the camera.
“Why does she look like that?” asked Mr Kemp’s daughter. Why indeed thought dad, and promptly took to social media as well as approaching the retailer and the SFA direct. Both could not apologise quick enough, and the female ads have been pulled. Good show, lads, but it should not have happened in the first place.
As for Miss Kemp’s query, there is not space enough in this entire paper to explain the story of everyday sexism in full. Believe it or not, young Scots, you live in a country that used to have photos of women on the sides of beer cans. Times are changing; just not fast enough.


HOUSEKEEPING news: I got a new job last weekend. After years of preparation I have finally joined the ranks of workers at a well-known supermarket chain.
Some of the training reached all the way back to childhood where I learned how to pack a bag: heavy items at the bottom, eggs on top, separate area for cleaning liquids.
When the store introduced self-operated checkouts I was a natural early adopter. I knew how to weigh fruit and veg, how to straighten out a bar code so that it would scan. No flashing red lights and customer assistance for this kid.
Last Sunday I took the plunge and went all in, trotting round the store scanning and bagging items as I went. Quite a few others were doing the same, most of them men.
Due to not having to lift goods from a trolley to a conveyor belt and then into a bag, I had cut out the middle step and saved myself, ooh, a whole five minutes? Probably done someone out of a job along the way, too. Best of all, as far as the shop was concerned, I did it for free. Let’s hope the Christmas staff party is good.