Where are you from?
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
How did you get started in broadcasting?
Almost by accident. I’d spent the best part of 20 years in newspapers, latterly as Political Editor of the Daily Mirror. I felt I’d done as much as I wanted in papers but thought I’d missed the broadcasting boat by about 15 years. Then a vacancy arose for a BBC political correspondent and I had my first experience of a BBC interview board. Very strange.
When was that?
Why News broadcasting?
News is what I know best, obviously, and I thought – quite rightly as it turned out – I’d have my work cut out learning how to do TV and radio without overcomplicating things by trying branch out into other areas.
Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
I did a bit of punditry from time to time, but they’d have had to be pretty attentive to notice.
What is your Best on-air moment?
My first successfully delivered piece to camera while walking in front of a live news event. It may not sound much – to old TV lags it’s routine – but a few months ago even attempting such a thing would have required intensive counselling.
What is your Worst on-air moment?
Critics might point to some of my lives. I’ve rarely met a journalist who’s good with figures and I’m no exception. So what possessed me to include two sets of figures in the same sentence at the top of an early live for the One O’Clock News I will never know. I transposed them not once but twice, with much stumbling in between. I like to think I’ve improved a little – others may disagree.
What would you like to do before your career ends?
I’d love at some point to have a crack at documentary making and – although my wife might need persuading – I wouldn’t mind a spell as a correspondent in the north of England. I haven’t lived there since the early 80s but I still regard it as home.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m boringly conventional – a young family imposes strict limits on the time I have to myself, but I like walking, reading and Leeds United. I’ve also been known to enjoy a drop of wine.
What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Don’t leave it as late as I did. Hustle everyone you can. And if you get there, listen and learn from people around you. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some exceptional producers who’ve been generous with help and advice. TV’s about teamwork and while I’m still learning, it’s clear to me already that the BBC is awash with talent.
A big thanks to James for taking part.
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