THERE had been days of headlines about his departure, but it was touch and go whether the host of The Andrew Marr Show was going to mention the pachyderm in the room.

Deploying the blend of savviness and showmanship that has kept him at the top of the Sunday game, Marr kept viewers waiting by going through a long list of forthcoming attractions on that day's show, including Sajid Javid, England’s health secretary. Finally, he was ready.

“Before we crack on, a brief word. You may have seen or read that I’m leaving the BBC after 21 years. I’m carrying on till Christmas but I really want to say this: not very much. You watch this programme I hope for the guests and their stories, not the presenter. It is always about the stories and not the storyteller.”

With that he moved on, only returning to teasing mode when describing the weather as “very weathery”.

Marr’s reluctance to speak about his move was understandable – up to a point. Journalists are on a par with politicians in (wrongly) finding themselves fascinating. Most people are far more interested in the message rather than the messenger.

That said, Marr’s leaving is notable for several reasons. He is a big name on a very large, licence fee-funded salary (£400,000, reduced from what it was).

Then there is the question of why he is going, and what that says about the current and future workings of the BBC.

Marr announced his move to Global, owners of LBC and Classic FM, on Twitter last Friday. Besides radio work he will be writing for newspapers. So far, so straightforward. Nothing his fellow Scot, Eddie Mair, has not done already. So nothing to see here, correct?

Yet Marr made a point of saying that he was “keen to get my own voice back” and that going to Global gave him a new freedom do journalism with “no filter, in entirely my own voice”.

To put it another way, he has felt hemmed in at the BBC, tied down like Gulliver.

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Certainly, a few interviews, with Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon, among others, have led to complaints about bias. But one person’s “bias” is another’s robust and fair holding to account, and the BBC has dismissed the complaints. He will still have had to go through the process, however, and doing that enough times might test anyone's reserves.

After so long on the Sunday shows, the restless Marr may simply fancy a change of scene. He might want his Saturday nights and Sunday mornings back (though if I was the LBC scheduler I would put him on Sunday mornings in competition with whoever replaces him).

There is already quite the game of musical chairs going on at the BBC. Laura Kuenssberg is reportedly talking to Auntie about her future. Scotland Editor Sarah Smith was last week named the BBC’s new North America editor, replacing Jon Sopel, who is returning to London. Other moves have been made, with a few still rumoured.

Normally, one or two changes would not matter. But the scale of the reshuffle that will be required, and Marr’s departure, makes things more complicated. This is becoming an important crossroads for the BBC, one that could set the direction of travel for years to come.

Even a brief run through of the contenders shows how tricky it will be to get right. Andrew Neil might have been the obvious replacement for Marr, for example, but brand Neil has been tarnished by association with GB News. While he will likely be brought back into the fold, now may be considered too soon.

Nick Robinson has filled in for Marr before, but he is already established on Today. In Scotland, memories of his tussle with Alex Salmond during the independence referendum linger (Robinson said, wrongly, that the former FM had not answered a question).

Amol Rajan was mentioned in the Sunday papers as a possibility for the political editor’s job, but he has only just joined Today, where he is proving popular with audiences, and there is a question mark over whether he has enough Westminster experience to be political editor.

The much under-rated Vicki Young, currently deputy political editor, would be a safer choice.

As for the replacement Scotland Editor, it is a big job title but a small role, and one that is carried out under an intense spotlight at that.

Given all this, and between declining budgets, pressure from governments, and the competition intensifying with the launch of Rupert Murdoch’s new channel talkTV next year, you might wonder who would still want the BBC jobs. Plenty of people is the short answer. The last big politics job, to be the new presenter of Question Time, went to Fiona Bruce after fierce competition.

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Christmas and parliamentary recesses at least buy BBC management some time before decisions have to be made, and ruffled feathers smoothed.

The winner in all this? One would like to say the viewer and listener, but that depends on whether you like the current BBC approach to politics coverage.

Should there be radical changes or a mere rearrangement of the chairs? It has not been that long since GB News offered to shake the media snow globe, a move welcomed by some at the time, but look how that turned out. Stay tuned, this could get interesting.