Where are you from?
Born in Darlinghurst, Australia but am British (it’s a long story!)
How did you get started in broadcasting?
I was very lucky – I joined the BBC as a news trainee straight from City University journalism course.
When was that?
Why News broadcasting?
It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. You get great colleagues, and it can be the most fascinating (and occasionally frustrating) job in the world. And it gives you the excuse to be nosy about anyone, anything, anywhere – and still call it work. And you keep learning every day.
Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
Well, there’s my illustrious early freelance career on the trade magazines ‘Caterer & Hotelkeeper’ and ‘Chartered Surveyor Weekly’ . In fact, they were brilliant fun as well and a great grounding in journalism. Freelanced occasionally for the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Independent when I was first a stringer abroad. Became a staff BBC correspondent in 1997 in Bonn, then Berlin and later Moscow. As BBC Paris Correspondent since 2003, I broadcast mainly for BBC radio and BBC World TV and News 24, as well as writing for BBC Online.
What is your Best on-air moment?
The stories I am glad I was able to cover were all in challenging places at difficult times – eg Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, Kosovo in 1999, Chechnya in 2001, and Iraq in 2003. But am not sure they involved my best moments…Private Eye immortalised one idiotic TV live I did for BBC News 24 early one morning while embedded with British forces during the war in Iraq, in which I apparently said: ‘I’ve been in the desert for days, and I can tell you it’s very sandy here.’ Not my best moment, but one that I still chuckle about. In retrospect. My kind colleagues even made me a T-shirt with those words on it…
What is your Worst on-air moment?
When presenting Newshour on World Service radio in 1995, we went live to a key guest down the line in Nigeria. As I finished reading the cue and asked my first question, there was a click on the line and the guest’s wife came on the phone instead to tell me – live on air – that her husband had just popped out to the shops. Not a lot you can say to that, really.
What would you like to do before your career ends?
Hope that it doesn’t, for some time! I sometimes dream of working for newspapers when I no longer have the energy to run around carrying tripods, but by that stage everything may be web-based anyway, blurring the lines yet further between broadcasting and print journalism.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Sleep, mainly. When awake I enjoy cycling, reading the newspapers and escapist novels, painting and going to the cinema. Used to enjoy drinking and smoking but at my age it’s all catching up with me, so am trying to learn to love green tea and yoga instead.
What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Go for it. Be determined, work hard and don’t take no for an answer. And remember – be nice to people on the way up, as you’re sure to meet them again on your way down!
A big thanks to Caroline for taking part.