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BOLT FROM THE BLUE.

Byline: By Marc Baker Wales on Sunday

Bbc Wales newsreader Sara Edwards last night revealed how she felt "effectively sacked" after being replaced by younger rival TV host Lucy Owen. The channel insists Ms Edwards' move was not down to her age. But last night, as she prepared to "develop new projects" for the BBC, the popular presenter told how she felt her hand was forced and how she also felt she had to make way for Owen, 10 years her junior.

And in an emotional interview the morning after her final broadcast, Sara revealed her shock at losing her job and how she wishes it had been handled differently by her Beeb bosses.

Ms Edwards was summoned to a meeting with TV executives at BBC Wales' HQ in Llandaff, Cardiff, two weeks ago.

During the meeting she was told she no longer featured in their plans to revamp Wales Today.

Speaking from her Cardiff home yesterday, Sara said: "It all came like a bolt out of the blue. I did not see it coming, so I just thought 'let's go'.

"I was given the impression that things had already been decided and that the editor of Wales Today had made the decision.

"There did not seem much point in going on. I asked myself, am I being sacked? It's difficult to know how to describe my feelings really. It was a done deal.

"I don't think it was about age. I was told by the editors of Wales Today that they wanted a different approach, a different look to the programme.

"It (the media) is supposed to be a hard, competitive world but I am thin-skinned. I was taken aback. I was bewildered.

"My decision to leave was because they wanted a different approach. I didn't think there was any point staying on unless I was the heart and soul. That's the way I do things."

Edwards, who gave birth to her first child last year, left BBC Wales' HQ soon after Friday's final broadcast.

Despite her years of service, the channel didn't throw a leaving party - although Sara insists she did not want a fuss.

Yesterday, however, she told Wales on Sunday that she would have a leaving party but that it wouldn't be at the BBC and that Beeb bosses probably "won't be coming".

Instead, BBC staff bought her chocolates and flowers. One worker even scrawled "We Love You Sara" on a newsroom bulletin board.

And we can also reveal that ever since news of her departure hit BBC Wales, some Wales Today staff have felt bitter over the way her departure has been handled.

They are angry BBC Wales management chose to announce it in a press release just days after Edwards decided to step down following her "effective sacking".

Staff are now said to be fearing what other changes may lie ahead as part of the revamp.

Sara said: "It seemed rather sudden. People were shocked to put it mildly. Yes, maybe one would do things differently but some things are done in a certain way and you don't understand the whys and wherefores.

"People were coming up to me blubbing but I said 'It's all right, it's all right'.

"We have always had a very close team. They are a great bunch of people and they have got to carry on. I feel for them. We are a little club.

"It is difficult for me to say anything but I feel for them hugely."

Despite tears from some staff members, Ms Edwards ended her 20 years on Wales Today without having to reach for a tissue.

Wearing a pale blue jacket and jeans behind the newsdesk, Sara nearly faltered before her final goodbye after wishing viewers a good weekend.

But she said: "I was determined to go in. I had a duty to perform.

"People were giving each other hugs. I can't begin to describe the atmosphere."

She added: "It's been a rollercoaster few days. It's been emotional. But things like this happen. You can't expect to be in the same job forever.

"It's an abrupt end to an era. It has been very bewildering as I have been doing this job for so long.

"But the main thing is that as long as I know I have done my best and behaved properly then that's the most important thing. Thanks for calling. Nobody else has asked me how I feel."

When the BBC announced Sara Edwards' departure last week, the channel praised her for her years of dedication.

Mark O'Callaghan, head of news and current affairs at BBC Wales, said: "Sara is a tremendous ambassador for BBC Wales, and is the ultimate professional.

"She has been a superb anchor for Wales Today and I am sure she will continue her excellent work fronting new projects."
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 2, 2007
Words:802
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