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How will the real Succession battle end?

Murdoch in 1969, with his second wife Anna and daughter Elisabeth. Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty

The “real-life drama” surrounding who will take over Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is even more ruthless than Succession, says Today in Focus. Three of Murdoch’s children from his second marriage – Elisabeth, Lachlan and James – have been preparing for the fight their entire life. Growing up in New York, they’d sit around the breakfast table with their father and he would nod along as they dissected the big US newspapers he owned – the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal – pointing out grammatical mistakes and substandard headlines. Family friends said Elisabeth was always the smartest, but that she was “never really in contention” for the top job. Too many of the top brass were, as she put it, “less than keen on women”.

At first, Lachlan seemed destined to take the crown. He was the eldest son and “the apple of Rupert’s eye”: in an interview in the 1990s, the mogul described Lachlan as “the first among equals”. But after tensions erupted with News Corp’s then second-in-command, Lachlan quit the business in 2005. The title of “leader-in-waiting” then fell to James, who until that point had been focused on launching his own rap label. But James fell from grace after allegations of phone hacking at Murdoch’s British newspapers emerged in 2011, and Lachlan returned to the fold as heir apparent once again. The most “explosive chapter” of this story may be yet to come. When Rupert dies, each of his four children from his second marriage will get one vote as to who should take over – and insiders say Lachlan’s siblings are far from certain he’s fit for the role. That’s the good news for Succession fans – the real story is very much “still playing out”.