Paul Dacre is to become a television presenter after Channel 4 signed up the former editor of the Daily Mail to take part in documentary series exploring how he helped shape modern Britain.

In The World According to Paul Dacre, the journalist will talk about his quarter of a century in charge of the newspaper and how he used it to exert influence over the UK’s political life.

“Telling the extraordinary story of how he shaped the Mail as the voice of middle England, he will share his unique insights into the events and the people who defined the front page of his newspaper,” Channel 4 said.

The series will “bring to life the decisions, debates and dilemmas that faced the editor of the Daily Mail throughout his tenure” and chart the “highs and lows” of working at the forefront of newspapers for the last 25 years.

The Daily Mail’s front page on 4 November 2016 under Dacre’s editorship

The Daily Mail’s front page on 4 November 2016 under Dacre’s editorship. Photograph: Daily Mail

Dacre cultivated an aloof presence while in the editor’s chair at the Daily Mail, giving only a handful of interviews during his tenure and making a small number of public appearances.

He tended to use his newspaper’s front page to make incendiary attacks on liberals, immigration, society’s perceived decline and the European Union, while his notoriously profane outbursts were heard only by fellow staff inside the Mail’s offices.

During the aftermath of the EU referendum he branded high court judges who had allowed parliament a vote on Brexit “enemies of the people”.

Since being edged out of the job last year in favour of a new editor, Geordie Greig, he has occasionally ventured into the pages of the Spectator to write diary columns, and he took part in a documentary series about the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Last month Dacre described his shock at the election of Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader. “So, the party of family values has chosen as leader a man of whom to say he has the morals of an alley cat would be to libel the feline species,” he said.

At the end of last year he gave a valedictory speech to the Society of Editors’ annual conference, which largely consisted of a lengthy attack on the values and editorial line of the Guardian.

Dacre’s time in charge of the Mail left him a loathed figure on the left of British politics but his mix of scandal and outrage appealed to middle England, allowing him to depart the newspaper in a financially healthy and influential position.

The Daily Mail, in common with the entire British newspaper industry, is suffering from heavy falls in sales but is losing print readers at a slower rate than its rivals. Its Saturday edition is now by far the biggest-selling print newspaper in the country, shifting 1.7m copies on the newsstand – almost double the sale of any Sunday paper.

At the current rates of decline the Daily Mail will soon take the title of the biggest-selling British national newspaper from the Sun, albeit in a shrinking market. Its coverage also appears on the wildly successful celebrity-focused MailOnline.

Those wishing to hear Dacre’s views on modern Britain will have to wait some time. The Channel 4 series, which has been commissioned for a run of three hour-long programmes, is expected to air in early 2021.


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