BBC host quits high election debate job after horror damage

The BBC’s Sophie Raworth has been forced to pull out of hosting the head-to-head debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer later this month after suffering a painful injury during the London marathon.

The 56-year-old veteran TV presenter, who often appears on the BBC News, was set to moderate The Prime Ministerial Debate on Wednesday June 26 on BBC One. But while running the 26-mile course in April, Sophie’s ankle “blew up” and she was forced to quit the race.

After weeks of pain and being unable to walk properly on her bad foot, Sophie’s injury was found to be a fracture.

“The injury I picked up at the London marathon has now been diagnosed as a fracture in my ankle. I was only told this last week during the D-Day commemorations. I’m now on crutches, in a boot and non-weight-bearing for some time,” she said today.

Sophie Raworth has broken her ankle after it "blew up" during the marathon

Sophie Raworth has broken her ankle after it “blew up” during the marathon

Taking on hosting duties will be the Today programme presenter Mishal Husain, who also moderated the first BBC election debate between Sunak and Starmer. Of her colleague, Sophie said: “Mishal Husain is a fantastic presenter and will be brilliant at moderating what is a really important debate for both the two leaders and the BBC. I’m delighted she is doing it.”

Paying tribute to Sophie, Mishal said: “Sophie has been remarkable in the pace and the way she’s worked in recent weeks, despite her injury. I can’t see myself ever stepping into her running shoes but she can count on me for this, as the two prime ministerial candidates face each other for their last television encounter.”

The live debate will air at 8.15pm on Wednesday June 26 for an hour and a quarter, followed by analysis and reaction from Laura Kuenssberg and Clive Myrie until 10pm.

Sophie will still be able to present BBC News bulletins and will be a familiar face on the second day of the general election night coverage.

Jonathan Munro, Deputy CEO of BBC News, said: “These debates are a key moment in the campaign – giving voters the chance to ask questions of their future prime minister.

Sophie Raworth, right, with Jenni Falconer and Aimee Fuller at the start of this year's London marathon

Sophie Raworth, right, with Jenni Falconer and Aimee Fuller at the start of this year’s London marathon
Getty Images)

“Mishal did an outstanding job on Friday – the BBC is very fortunate to have such a wealth of talent to draw upon. We’re wishing Sophie a speedy recovery; it seems it’s not only football managers who need to worry about foot injuries!”

Keen runner Sophie has taken part in multiple marathons and even has a separate Twitter page – Raworth on the run – dedicated to her athletic exploits. In May she revealed she couldn’t take part in her usual Parkrun due to her injury, so shared a picture of her pooch Luna assisting her in volunteering for the 5km course.

She even shared her progress during the marathon, up to the point she was forced to retire. “Well I had a great 20 mile race,” she joked on Instagram. “It all started so well! I even got to meet the legend that is Jasmin Paris! And then at mile 18 or so my ankle blew up. Annoying because I was doing ok. But my attempted 12th @londonmarathon became all about the kindness of strangers and the shoulders I was given to lean on.

Sophie posing with her medal after the 2018 London marathon

Sophie posing with her medal after the 2018 London marathon

“Thank you to the girl at Canary Wharf tube who got me on a train. Thanks to the lovely people who fed me chocolate mini eggs and jelly babies on the tube and made me laugh and to the two women who got me off the tube and back to the finish line to get my bag. Thank you most of all to my friend Bob who gave me his coat and got me to the medical tent,” she went on.

“I always tell my kids it’s good to fail from time to time. I failed today. My 1st DNF in a marathon. But hopefully my ankle will be better in a few weeks and I can run again. Meanwhile I finally have an excuse to wear trainers on the 6 o’clock news tomorrow night. There won’t be much walking going on in that studio.”

A week later she revealed she was having X-rays done, adding: “Oh well… Turns out stopping at 20 miles in the @londonmarathon was very definitely the right thing to do. 6 weeks of no running…or cycling…or swimming…or weights or much walking. What can I do? I asked a little horrified. Kayaking? suggested one doctor.”