POPULAR BBC TV presenter Roger Johnson is leaving to take a top job in Manchester.

Roger, 41, will leave South Today next Friday after 14 years covering sport.

He has secured the co-presenting post on North West Tonight and starts on October 3.

Roger first worked in Southampton for Radio Solent in 1994 before leaving to work in Manchester for two years.

He returned to Southampton as a TV journalist in 1997.

Among the major stories he covered have been FA Cup finals for Saints and Pompey.

He said of the move: “It is a step up in the sense of becoming the main presenter rather than the sports presenter, which is what I am here. It is time for a new challenge.

“It is a really exciting opportunity to go up there rather than stay and maybe have regrets. I have had a very happy time living in this part of the world and have made many friends.”

The enduring popularity of South Today presenter Sally Taylor made the top job unlikely.

Roger said: “It has never been an option, to be honest.

Sally has been here 25 years and is hugely popular. There are lots of people who have had to move on to move up.

That is the nature of the business.”

The father-of-three, who lives near Alresford, said the move of many departments of the BBC to a new centre in Manchester would potentially open up other opportunities on national TV.

Roger is replacing Gordon Burns, 68, who worked for 18 years on ITV’s national show The Krypton Factor.

The new role means Roger will scale back his work for Match of the Day and as a newsreader on the BBC’s 24- hour channel.