John Simpson - Questions and Answers

John Simpson


Where are you from?
Suffolk, via London.

How did you get started in broadcasting?
As a half-pay junior sub-editor in the Radio Newsroom, aged 22.

When was that?
1 September 1966. Everything was completely different except at the BBC, which is still recognizably the same organization.

Why News broadcasting?
It was either that or local newspapers, and I liked the idea of public service broadcasting. I still do.

Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
Only on ‘University Challenge’, where my team made it through three (or was it four?) rounds.

What is your Best on-air moment?
Reporting the entirely peaceful transfer of power in South Africa in 1994, when everyone had expected a bloodbath.

What is your Worst on-air moment?
Forgetting the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer during a live two-way from Maastricht in 1992; but there’ve been plenty of others. The Chancellor’s name was Norman Lamont.

What would you like to do before your career ends?
Report on the trial and sentencing of Mladic and Karadzic for war crimes, the safe return of the Botswana Bushmen to their ancestral home, and the non-violent transition of China to an open society.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Looking after our new baby has rather got in the way of things like seeing films, wandering round bookshops, and hanging out at the Chelsea Arts Club. I hope to get back to these things, preferably with him.

What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Don’t give up, no matter how hard it seems; I never met anyone who wanted to get into broadcasting and didn’t manage it eventually. Secondly, understand that the job is its own reward: it’s hard work, and it’s not particularly well paid.

A big thanks to John for taking part.

Updated: Thursday 21 May 2009

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