7.30 political editor Chris Uhlmann is leaving the program to make a documentary on the Rudd-Gillard years.

Uhlmann will be replaced in the high-profile role by Sabra Lane, currently the chief political reporter for ABC radio current affairs.

Uhlmann confirmed his move to Crikey this morning, saying: “I’m stepping back from the day-to-day.” Uhlmann says he would consider his next move after completing the documentary project, which is also for the ABC. Thursday will be his last night as 7.30 political editor — a role he first took on in 2008 when Kerry O’Brien was the host.

Uhlmann, a former seminarian, began his career as perhaps the oldest ever cadet at The Canberra Times before working as a producer for ABC 774 host Jon Faine. He went on to become a political reporter for ABC radio and ABC News 24’s political editor. He co-hosted 7.30 in 2011 before Leigh Sales was promoted to be standalone host last year.

“I’m sure more than a few people will be glad I’m gone,” joked Uhlmann, who is regarded as a tough interviewer by both sides of politics.

While Tony Abbott has praised Uhlmann, who is married to Labor MP Gai Brodtmann, as a “highly professional journalist”, Paul Keating slammed him last year for not showing then-prime minister Gillard enough respect in an interview.

7.30 host Leigh Sales tweeted today:

Uhlmann says researchers have already begun work on the documentary, which will chart Labor’s six years in office under Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. Four Corners executive producer Sue Spencer will lead the documentary team. Uhlmann previously worked on a documentary about the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires.

When asked about a move to 7.30, Sabra Lane told Crikey: “I’m not in a position to comment.” ABC sources say a final decision has not been made on Lane’s replacement in the important radio reporting role.