Laura Kuenssberg’s first-choice replacement as BBC’s political editor was “talked out” of the role after his family raised concerns.
Kuenssberg stepped down from the role in May 2022, and Chris Mason has since taken over the position.
However, the BBC faced a blow to their original plans after Jon Sopel was set to replace Kuenssberg but was put off the decision by his children.
Sopel, 64, was lined up to be the new political editor but he turned it down in February 2022.
Later that year, Sopel went on to leave the BBC to present the News Agents podcast with Emily Maitlis and Lewis Goodall.
Speaking on the Iain Dale All Talk podcast, Sopel explained: “They wanted me to become political editor and take over from Laura, and it looked like it was a done deal.”
Jon Sopel almost took over from Laura Kuenssberg as political editor
He went on to add: “But my family were very against it.
“They said, ‘You’re an old man now, dad. Why do you want to be standing outside Downing Street in the freezing cold every night?’”
Reflecting on his own career experiences, he admitted: “I always thought, ‘Why am I standing outside Downing Street?’
“It’s the most meaningless shot in the world. It’s not like Rishi Sunak is coming out and bringing you a cup of tea.”
Jon Sopal was ‘talked out’ of replacing Kuenssberg
He went on to address the way in which Kuenssberg had been treated during her time in the role.
The 47-year-old had opened up in the past about the toxic responses she received on social media while editor.
He commented: “What Laura was subject to was pretty unpleasant.
“I’d had enough of it with [Donald] Trump, and I just wasn’t sure in my own mind that I wanted to commit the next four or five years of my life to being political editor.”
Chris Mason ended up replacing Laura Kuenssberg
Kuenssberg went on to replace Andrew Marr as the host of BBC’s weekend show, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
Before leaving the broadcaster, Sopel was the company’s North American editor.
He announced his exit from the role in October 2021 before Sarah Smith was announced as his replacement.