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Media Masters with Paul Blanchard
welcome to media Masters series of one-to-one interviews with people at the top of the media game mother 21 and 80 countries including Afghanistan Bosnia Chechnya Rwanda and Iraq often in the line of fire away from the Frontline his television work includes the documentaries Moses and son and even presenting duties on Have I Got News For You Jeremy string of accolades include baftas MSP body for Royal television Society and three bears Awards he is also three best-selling books.
Thank you for joining me for inviting me to seeing good healthy.
You made a very brave public announcement that you are undergoing chemotherapy for bowel cancer in April yeah, I'm thinking about it, but I saw that my friend and colleague George Alagiah who also has had bowel cancer has bowel cancer.
Stuff for one of the charities bowel cancer UK and to be honest with you.
I felt that guilty not doing it.
You know I didn't really want to share my details with perfect strangers, but I thought it was a good cause of the the cause was trying to get people tested and I did it and there was a good reaction NHS even said that that particular time more people went to their website to enquire about testing so if it was probably worth doing the power of being a kind of facing in households Across The Nation doesn't even know something is terrible as a headset like that.
You can turn into a better positive as can be well.
I think that if me speaking up.
Just resulted in one person getting treated and finding out they had the disease in time to get to get treated and cured.
Then it was worth it and I've certainly had messages from people saying well.
You know I heard you talking about it.
I went to the doctor because I was a bit worried and they found out that there was some things going I'm going to be ok.
So thank you.
So I've had a few messages like that some people which makes it worthwhile mean that you like basically thinking I'm invincible and then you get you realise you're not frankly because of my working life that you know we are not invincible that start with I probably was and you're having cancer does bring to you an information of mortality and there's no question about that and you realise that if you didn't know already that you are grip on unlocks.
Is you know potentially it's not that strong, but it hasn't stopped reporting that I mean most recently on the Israeli elections work to stop.
Comeback story and I not really at full speed as yet, you know I was diagnosed in well practically this time last year October and I had surgery in November and chemo in the first 6 months of the year.
So you know that is a lot of medical treatment in that time.
I was I wasn't travelling and I couldn't live and what was it like to get to get back in the saddle straight from there was an Israeli election.
I probably done about over the years by half a dozen Israeli elections.
You know it was quite an easy user-friendly story to get back get back to work.
It wasn't somewhere that is fine.
I just work and you know if I got a Syria or Iran Yemen shuffle round but you're not going to Israel is.
Tesco's in that sense and so yeah, it was quite good.
Enjoy myself you been reporting from trouble spots in the Middle East 35 years in One Sense the more I know about the Politics of the region that seems to be at the root cause of much global instability and the most selfish if you want incredibly interesting beat well.
It's very rich read me the thing it's very difficult to try and put one reason why I sort of got stuck that because after use to Middle East stories other stories do seem Sometimes A Little Bit is it a question because that sometimes the more I look into it the less.
I know how is it.
Is it still surprising you on a daily basis or do you become a little bit almost slightly jaded? No, I haven't been surprised by in a in a couple of years because things have been set along a certain path and they haven't really gone off that pass.
Really surprised was during all the the uprisings of 2011 Arab uprisings sokollab Spring of that year because that really tired everybody by surprise.
I think those people who claim to see whether they want that money.
I don't remember writing about it at the time.
So that was really surprising and since then there has been an awful lot of trouble in the region once you get into it.
It's forever interesting to communicate because there's so many different you know country so many different political parties points of View that said it sounds like that as I often struggle to understand.
I still of John Craven when he did Newsround because he would actually do the idiot-proof introduction was a stupid nothing is sometimes.
I'd literally think will who's the bad guy.
I mean you can't do it as a bad guy sometimes are too bad guys are too good guys, but scripts and intros things like that shouldn't assume.
They shouldn't assume knowledge.
Someone should not get to the end of a piece of reporting from the Middle East confused and knowing less than when they started it because if that happens then you ever the reporter is failed the challenge is here because it can seem a bit complicated the challenges to do a piece which will appeal to someone who knows very little or nothing about the region but is interested enough to stick with it and at the same time will have something in it for someone who's a computer expert you are so I'm working on the the relevant desks at the foreign office so there's a big range if you if your journey is reading a newspaper you tend to know exactly what kind of people are going to be reading your articles the thing about broadcasting.
Is it so much much broader base the audiences are much wider than they would be in newspapers and as result of that.
You have to try and Taylor what you do in such a way that it appeals to a much wider range in the way of the I would try and do that is by regarding the peace so if you project on one level maybe don't know very much but it is internally coherent explain things as it goes along but not in a condescending and then if it's the layer that same that someone knows more about it, then that person will probably take the expansion bid for granted but you need something in it which will make that person.
I didn't realise that that's interesting so you know that that's challenge and I still get a kick out of writing a decent script you feel more vulnerable now than ever before it seems to me that the journalists now fair game for almost everyone well during the summer than the one they were there's no doubt about that.
She said 35 years and when I started travelling which was more than 30 years ago going to travel sports and placing the word trouble I would say it was safer than yeah.
I think that I mean for example in my first war in El Salvador 1989 journalists are used flags it across the street when they were shooting guy on the way.
They're white flags.
They charge para dieta para, Elisa which means journalist in Spanish in a very loud voice and inch their way across the road not running because the idea was they might think you were a fighter or soldier and take a shot that you and while journalists got the feeling was that you could do that safely you just would not contemplate doing something like that these days.
I think the vulnerability of journalists as well comes from the fact that there's now 24/7.
Landscape and people all kinds of people from univeri innocent prman to desperados wanna try and get their story on to that 24/7 merry-go-round and it may well, be that they think will try and knock off a foreigner reading local guide and so they might do that to try and get there you know the story out there get there their name out there as rolling news change the way that you report it in a more fundamental way because even in the old days.
You would do a package it will then go on the 10th how you got to give all you got to be available live on the seams introduced towards my job is still very much is it's always been which is doing a package going somewhere with cameraman producer and accumulating material and then putting it together and doing a package yeah, maybe.
Too much of the stuff, but no I think of course I was rolling uses changed everything people know expect to be able to just get the news wherever they want to be quite rightly today technology so it something you've got to be in and I don't think you're really a player if you you're not in it as a news organisation you have to be in 24-hour news with apologies to my dear friends and colleagues Cyrus and ITV News if you just doing this appointment.
I think compared to when there's a big story and people turn on their TV's on more likely they said go for their phones and they expect to see something straight away and I think that's fair enough.
How are you seen as the BBC In The Middle East this is seen as a more trusted newsvoice there are compared to see them more passes on us.
Let's hope it is.
Is to be honest like a plague on all your houses yeah, they may be individuals private citizens you think we're ok.
I find that in authoritarian countries all broadcasters are sexually figures of suspicion and
the BBC yes sometimes people seem to connect with the British government which goes well.
No no, I don't think you get any particular.
I mean it does mean that you're quite well known and the organisation as well then people know who the BBC is there a lot of Illusions good ones and bad ones about it, but people do know who you are and you are no sense obscure mean.
I'm listening to Jon Sopel latest audiobook and he was I was just listening to the chapter.
Where was saying about how is doing the pressure with the president and this is where you from and the BBC and ridiculous are free and impartial and it's right next to the president United States that must be pressed you not really is the man that he is in bed with the trump in the White House press corps.
There's clearly a little bit of giving take they have a girl in a lot of the time.
He's got his friends.
He's got fox and various other allies.
But he sees the other lot as hostile forces and uses the phrase fake news a lot, so I've been doing a job for a long time and I'm under no illusions that people sometimes regarded journalists.
I don't feel and I don't feel you know personally offended by anything like that.
You got to develop a thick skin people as well as trying to push their own point of view mean it fascinates me about the the impartiality of the BBC how they cover something as divisive as the Middle East and is real the old cliche wasn't it? Is that if you got complaints from both sides, then you were kind of rice.
Is it more complicated complicated and that you not read the BBC editorial guidelines a while ago and it's talking about even the words you can use a barrier or security barrier because even the word that uses is impliedly choosing a sign language users really important language is powerful and it carries.
So you have to be careful just how you use it and the words that you use on the BBC we have some words we we like and there's no word.
That's officially banned that I'm aware of course part from rude words.
Yes, but words which are sometimes controversial like terrorism we can use them, but they have to be qualified as my understanding of the rules as they stand at the moment, so you'll have to explain you can't just say there's not a terrorist.
Do you have to say because they done this all the other day been accused of terrorism or something you don't find the correct form of words words are powerful words are important.
So you got to be careful how you use them that often you literally as well as figuratively Under Fire is that is that a struggle is it quite professional challenge when you when you were in the heat of the moment it to report things and you know make sure that you'll be a free fan told him.
No, it's not actually I've been doing this at work for BBC my entire career.
So it's second nature really I have strong my own of course.
I know and as I get older.
I send my views if anything is stronger as often happens with people as they get older but I'm not tempted to put it into my it's appropriate to do that.
I think that once you were seen on our as a propagandist of some sort of an impartial reporter then you move you move somewhere else you know a lot of stuff to that so yeah, it's important.
I give an example that was during the war in Bosnia 1992 siege of Sarajevo there was an awful story a couple of kids who were on a botched attempted evacuation.
D&D service open fire on the bus and killed two other kids kids happened a lot in all kinds of different directions in the Bosnian War that happened in all wars and you know we saw the kids in the family etc.
Etc, and when it came few days later to the funeral.
We thought we follow all through and got a funeral as well and then the funeral was shelled again from the positions so I was absent Furious I was appalled.
I was just custard the fact that these two kids have been killed me when was a baby was a toddler.
They been killed and then the funerals have been shelled and then the mother of one of them, so is a grandmother of one of them was very badly hurt and we just took a day.
The massive hole in her arm they saved her home anyway.
I thought I'd use the camera saying this is absolutely appalling.
This is a war crime.
This is the last English shouldn't happen civilized people would never do a thing like that, but I didn't actually because some part of my training I supposed to be kicked in and I didn't much more factual saying but this happened then this happened this happened explaining the situation and I think as a result I didn't much more powerful piece by keeping it straight keeping it factual not ranting.
It wasn't meant to be about my response how I felt about it and emotional response, isn't it? Yeah to do it do it straight and then many years later at the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia trials of the two main leaders of the Bosnian serb side.
Radovan karadzic the political leader and recommended to the military leader I testified in both cases and in both of those cases the prosecutors put into evidence that did that day about that incident as part of the evidence against them so would they have done that had a rant and rave and said it's a walk.
I'm not and they would have but they did it because I was factual and so I think that for me that was a real strong lesson which is do it straight.
Keep it factual does say you can't introduce a lot of context and explanation, but it's not about you the reporter.
It's not about your experience.
It's not about what you think about what's going on is about those people and what's happening to them and white happening to them.
I mean come on you sometimes be to sanitize.
I was doing some research.
Obviously when I when I knew that I was going to talk with you and I
How you are Critical when pictures of children gassed to death in Damascus have been removed by the BBC editors in London from the series package that you did yeah, well, I've had this long-running discussion with our editors who are perfectly legitimate position which is that very often people watching this at home might be 80 time which is fair enough, but then later on after the even after the watershed that might still be kids around anyway adults can get shocked as well, so we shouldn't show some other bad stuff is not always necessary in that case in Damascus was unit was a chemical weapons attack.
There was a good reason for showing it because and don't have the shot in question was not gory it was a line of kids as far as I can remember who were wrapped up in shrouds their faces can be seen but they're all dead.
And it was a really powerful shot it said a lot about why what happened with shopping and months old babies, so I was very disappointed when that didn't make it on there, but we have these discussions and go back and forth and you know over the years sometimes they've been more inclined to sanitization and sometimes have been less inclined your reporting is made me feel physically sick you might because of the imagery that you've shown is just been so horrendous kids and it wasn't your reporting but there was recently some BBC Reporting of the deliberate targeting of hospitals and it was showing children that are suffering and I just I just felt but also felt a sense of powerlessness because I genuinely didn't know what to do.
What can I write to my MP start?
Stop buying something that was that was upset at my own helplessness watching it a lot of the time.
I was saying to people write your own pee or contribute to a disaster fund or something like that, but you really we are pretty Palace to to to have a lever on this kind of thing you know that is it for serious concern governments may be done something earlier on the Western governments chose.
Not too well, they did it bits and bobs enough to encourage anti-acid Fighters without giving him enough for them to beat the regime and ever since the Russians intervened as of some time ago really couple years ago.
You could say that I said one and it was just a question after that have how long it would take to come up with.
Coughton Court Windsor at what Ultimate cost has presumably most countries will treat him as a war criminal won't be able to travel is just going to be holding his bunker in a lot of trouble and I wonder if this is the case which now is in the centre of Damascus was never bad to hear the outskirts, but they've been destroyed, but yet the centra mascus never bad together fighting the streets surrounding Assad is already you might are you starting the the the journey back to some kind of normalcy because the at the moment the Secretary General of the UN is putting together some kind of constitutional convention to try to change the constitution there and the regime is part of that process be talking to each other.
The west was concerned from the very beginning they said Assad must go but the difficulty about their approach was in they didn't do anything to make him anything that was really going to trouble them and the real Turning Point was 2013 when there was that chemical weapons attack in the Damascus Suburbs of Damascus and a lot of people were killed and Obama has said using chemical weapons is a red line.
You cross that red line.
You're in trouble mate in the end across the red line and we let them get away with it.
Nothing was done.
I don't think attacking a bombing the regime of that point would have would have ended the wall more quickly, but as far as the credibility of what the west wanted to do after that.
It was shop.
You know as far as I said in his people were concerned.
They had looked The Americans
In the eye and the Americans are blind and they thought much stronger after that.
That's a shame that we did that the regime when they were waiting to be born when I thought was happening.
I was in Damascus and they were waiting for a little waiting for the emergency department basically and when they didn't they could not believe how lucky they were the people from whom.
They were there was so relieved.
I mean you've met a lot of it the key players almost all of them.
What is it actually like to meet someone like a sad very polite a couple of times before the War Began and then once during it president Assad is a very polite and courteous and when you meet him in a very old-fashioned where you know he gets up when people enter the room and to the room you know if you're leaving the room you make sure you go to the door first.
that sort of thing you know the Syria and do the Assad family thinking about it is a family business his father president 1970 then handed the job over to him when he died in the 2000 so the family business is Syria a lot of the family involved in it his brothers and running the regime at his cousin is the money man there are loads of other relatives and also people who Close associates of some years were there think I said was the oldest Sandy was there was another one that he died acid was the is there was the eldest surviving son so therefore he became chairman of chairman and chief executive but there were plenty of other people on the board and had a saying what was going on having said that I think I said knows exactly what's going on his country some people think that because
A little bit cheeky and harmless bands like an optometrist doesn't that was his job anyway, because I think people underestimate him.
He has a high opinion of himself to talk to him away from the camera as well.
I think he sees him.
He has to be the sort of person is Father the first president Assad was generally recognised as which is the man who was Maurice at the centre of things the first president Assad hassle.
I said, what is the guy who was at the centre of the web and had an awful lot of influencing people had to seek him out the Americans with sequin art to try and help get things done in the region.
I think that I said junior wants to be that kind of guy now things have changed because of this very very long and destructive war so the question is how's it going to plan over the next five years, but I don't know the answer to that but.
You know it's not going to be in Syria how does it work in terms of journalistic is like white like you say spring turn off camera, but are you this might sound very nice question but you have to say you absolute scumbag.
You wouldn't of course you might think because he's putting rubbish anyway.
Even on here.
I said to him before the interview.
I said I could be some people asking you the hardest questions and think of bring it on he said you know it's fine.
You can ask me whatever you want.
I don't see any point in getting into a beautiful body whether it's a guy on a checkpoint or the the head of state.
What is the point mean? I'm not going to do my job which is trying to explain what's going on to my audiences the BBC the BBC audiences and if I start slagging off the president his face reason not to his face to be honest that particular object.
Once again, it would be you about me as I've already said I don't think that reporting that journalism should be about the water.
I think it should be about the people involved in the story you mentioned about getting over a little bit about maybe being a tiny bit more cynical, but how helpful are you more widely for the wider region growing up only an idiot would think that people ever come to Northern Ireland it was so obvious that it was just going to go on forever and then of course through the major and The Blair government space was brought analysis in an easy pace Book People anymore.
Is it one of those things where you are most of my you know the more cynical and ready you can become unique people might have fresh ideas or do you think ultimately just unsolvable? Will you never you never lose points by pessimistic in the Middle East in when you trying to assess what's going on because that tends to be correct.
There is a real problem in a lot of countries with leader.
With civil Society with alternatives to the regime with questions about which groups are in powered enough to to to present a some kind of an alternative other problems about the building of institutions and by which I mean you know course there are those that work police judiciary that are corrupt and I'm either doesn't season power you know normally have all of the above Middle Eastern country.
It's not enough to expand in Iraq to impose elections at the point of a gun after the Invasion 2003 people said well, we created democracy.
Oh, no, we didn't really not a good democracy because they were they were votes and but people voted on sectarian lines.
That was a system that they were given and they were.
Institutions the backed up those elections and brought her a fairer Society for concerned.
You know it took hundreds of years in this country and we are in no sense perfect already that there are serious flaws in our democracy.
I think they've been apparent in the last year or so, so that's after hundreds of years of trying so I'm not expecting rapid progress in the Middle East and sometimes people compare the israelis and Palestinians with Republicans and loyalists in Northern Ireland I can see the comparison, but it only goes so far the Communities and israelis and the Palestinians are waves more separate than they are in Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland they were always Protestants and Catholics getting marriage.
They are different cultural backgrounds in many ways but speaking the same language recognisable similarities in their versions of Christianity there was never a time when the British government wasn't talking to the IRA so they kept saying when I can talk to Terrace well.
They took steroids all-time successive governments but in with his reading and Palestinians on the very rare occasions that Israeli and Palestinian might want to get married the pretty have to leave the country and go somewhere else they speak different language.
They are there to deliver the same sun that actually the reality of their lives is so different.
It's so different and if anything is getting wider the whole situation.
Just seems utterly intolerable and that makes him about shallow analysis and obviously doesn't provide any Solutions whatsoever but again I feel like.
That I don't I don't understand it well enough even I genuinely make the effort to but I'm always scared of voicing any opinion because I don't want to offend anyone or betray an opinion where you can clearly not well enough.
I think people you meet israelis and Palestinians don't think she was asking questions explain their point of view rather than giving them yours until that gets people talking to some questions asked about their lives about what they think about things sometimes because it's been such a big part of their lives because I don't want to talk about it because this thing I'm going with you now.
I've had enough of people will talk about it because it is especially around Jerusalem and the West Bank Gaza places both sides of the border fencing Gaza Massacre their lives.
4 Israeli to live on the coast saying Tel Aviv of the conference is always there in the background, but they often say that people live there often say the living in a bubble.
It is a lovely city and some the Mediterranean it's got fabulous restaurants and people stroll around and it's so it's people they're off and stay over in a bubble glass bubble and if we don't get the rest of course they do because people go for mandatory service.
They are being over the years different tax in Tel Aviv I would say that the conflict in looms with we'll wait and damage on the shoulders of many Palestinians because they're wicked and don't have the resources and don't have an A&E patient.
That's the key things you love and occupation life.
Way more difficult than it seems to be very difficult when you know you're talking about in the occupied territories.
You know Obama once said that you know what it is.
You should Retreat to its 1967 borders with the Show live in peace and harmony together in somehow, and he was ridiculed for remembering that sounds quite reasonable really but again you you know if he's really friends and they would have a completely opposing point of you.
Please sort of the classic international solution for many years was always Israel goes back to the situation.
That was there in 1967 which city does The West Bank give up his Jerusalem day, pretty give the Golan Heights back to Syria and in return for that.
They get peace it hasn't worked out that way both sides blame each other for it.
It seems to be going ok earlier on in the peace process, but then when the Israeli Prime Minister
Robin was assassinated in 1995 what it was just after I going to live in Jerusalem as matter of fact then things started going downhill quite quickly not because he was particularly wedding to the process, but I think he was wedded to trying to deliver it and his various successes were not on the Palestinian side as well as a dearth of good leadership since then things have basically gone from bad to worse is it possible to feel sorry for both sides because I'm in rather than me trying to decide I can see I think he's really good manners overacting hugely many ways can also see why you know an average Israeli citizen wandering around would feel threatened and you know that again.
That's not to pick a side.
I can kind of condemn both sides and feel sorry for both sides.
It just seems utterly unsolvable Palestinians feel very by settlers settlers by
Soldiers by raising the middle of the night by helicopters you name it and Angela many israelis have have been hurt by and continue to be worried about attacks by Palestinian over have been all that many in recent years and the israelis would say that's cos they got on top of it.
Yeah, you are I mean sure but I feel sorry for the both of them.
They're very decent people on both sides and it's a lovely country and my I think that no one has to my mind come up with a better solution than splitting the territory into two States they have to I think do something like that otherwise they will be betraying their the children and because they will be condemning their children and grandchildren two more of the same and that's no fun.
You know when you get your haircut never talk about religion or politics, but you know the Middle East this is both really that polarization where you almost certainly on Twitter but even in real life that you know face to face pop it you never raise and but it seems to be getting worse across politics and you got brexit that splitting families you've got and you make America great again trump people vs.
People trump supporters at the everyone seems to be listening to each other even less and just digging in but as polarization phenomena across the world and many many certainly is the case in the Western world of parliamentary democracy polarization is something I think that happens when people feel the system has been good same anymore and they therefore tend to go towards one extreme or the other one end of the argument or the other end of the argument.
And this idea some people so we need to find compromise we define compromise say about brexit fact is there loads of people that no Desire whatsoever and policies as well if you're that way around so yeah, I think all you know right across the Western world.
There is this issue about polarization because systems that delivered gave people are rising standard of living allows people think that children might be better off and there wasn't people feel like that anymore my my daughter when she was about 16 or walking down the road.
We will have to go past my first flat which is a few streets away from where we live now and I said that's why I look that was my first flat.
She said how do you win when you bought it and I said was 26th at 16 so she already knew about this stuff.
No chance basically to get on the property Ladder TV sometimes can be true the lens through which their readers always look at the world shepherd's ample you in the Daily Mail welcomes the fact that house prices are going up.
It's quite a lot of young people like your daughter didn't read that and then it will be the first rung on the ladder is now getting further and further away from me.
So it's great the house prices are going up if you want a house already, but if you don't you screwed what I think is a look at the audience know things well, but a lot of people over the age of 50 who bought houses 25 years ago when I was more and I quite like the idea that they got their the Investment has become quite a big gain so I think that's right.
You know if the mail was aiming itself at 23-year old millennials.
You know you can last as long as you like the thought of that but if they were they probably wouldn't say prices are going up.
I use old BBC eyes now in terms of your objective of the inside of impartiality that you could never sort of presents a talk radio show where they the real Jeremy comes out good money to know what you really think on the Middle East I know you'll never tell us and it's rightly so credit to you as an impartial reporter but I pay good money for a book where you said right.
This is I've been there for decades.
These are the bad guys the good guys.
This is what's going wrong.
Tell us what you really think maybe if and when I retire but not before that and I think this you spend your entire career trying to be being a BBC impossible guy.
You'd have to it.
Would be a quite a big change of gear to become highly opinionated talk radio host and the problem is practically immediately lose half your audience anyway, because no matter how well you judged your opinion might be too taking position a
40% of listeners that support position B and then they're not going to listen to you anymore, because that polymerization is what I call the Taylor Swift problem people criticized for not getting involved in politics for years and the minute.
She came out for women's rights and against trump will people say how dare she and she's alienated 48% of our audience business and maybe Man United have to worry too much about that.
Yes, you're right.
How did you get any covering that date because you didn't know you could have ended up being did Dave lady of the day great Guy BBC Silicon Valley correspondent.
He's getting the latest iPhone well before it comes out about society's changes great interesting that doesn't have all the the physical and existential danger that you face you know you a glutton for punishment must be how do you beat? Well? I join the BBC straight from university.
I went to university.
Eurostar Paris London and then I was I did a master's degree in Italy and in the United States and while I was doing that I got accepted on one of the BBC graduate trainee.
I showed you on the BBC News 24 and I'm not really and I joined the scheme I wanted to be a current affairs producer doing current first films.
So not sure I'd probably not but maybe a couple of years ago and he said that he's got he has the show-off Gene that he quickly realised that there's a big pane of glass in a radio.
Yeah, well, I think I'm quite got the gym and I would never call him shrinking violet and I'm not.
I think there's going to be a broadcast if you'd be a TV reporter or a TV presenter, then you have to be to have a bit of ego.
You have some confidence to stand up there and do it no question about that, but not a question of how got to Doin' it well the trainee scheme.
I was one that was aimed at trying to develop people for top jobs and the BBC scheme and a lot of pain at the top of the BBC in the last few years while more than 4 years were graduates of it.
I mean Tony Hall director-general was on one of the early schemes I think so, so they they saw us as the the next generation of people doing those sorts of big jobs and maybe two Generations way, and I wanted to be a
And then when I got into being a foreign correspondent.
I wanted to be in the place which seem to produce the highest quality toughest News Middle East so I aim for that and I found myself are you're a pretty early on I would did the first Big storage in the region was the movie version of Kuwait in 1990 and then 1991 the bombing of Baghdad I was in Baghdad all that was going on and didn't you turn that down in 2003 girl in the year was different by then I felt that I was just coming back to reporting from being a presenter presenter BBC breakfast for couple years and ready for anything quite as hardcore is out of that point plus talking about Baghdad not the BBC breakfast, but I didn't.
I didn't have the appetite for getting involved in a potentially tough story and I thought it well done.
It really more than 10 years before it was a breakthrough story for me in 1991 was the first Big One I done really big one and it was the was the story the sort of got me into the premier league if you like and I think that journalism is that sometimes what works out for the journalists? It's only work out for the people you know we talk with some affection about stories or yeah.
That was a great story, but wasn't going to sort of people involved in it very often, but is that kid's got that one yeah exactly but from you know anybody any job wants to do things that are demanding and to do that well as surgeon.
I talked about a very interesting operation was not very interesting if you got a very advanced tumor and not interesting do you like breaking news? But we had quite a few journalists and presenters on over the years that say that you know it's quite thrilling to literally just tell people the thing that they need to know this just happened.
That's probably one of the great appeals and my most satisfying moments have been when you think I have an incredible story here and I'm going to put it together in the course of the next couple of hours and people are going to be blown away by it and that is a very are you here in your car going back to where you going to read it and you've got material.
You know you've you can put it together you might even have time to put it together.
That is a very good story very good feeling and yeah, it's some I think to be in the sort of job.
You need to be the kind of person who so who likes to say.
This you'll never guess and and then tell people did you enjoy being in the BBC Breakfast studio Reading from the aftercare and chatting and interviewing people was that a different start with I hated it start with because a big story has broken out my old patch in Jerusalem mod.
Just left after 5-years, then I was finding myself having to ask people about it and two ways but I thought I could probably answer quite well, too.
I found that frustrating.
I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning which also found a little but you know a couple of years, but I did get quite like it actually because I had a very good co-presenter.
Sophie still is a very dear friend of mine and she Nathan's better.
You know she help and encourage.
Can you have a great future of refuse to present to do with Harry gration unless? He's a great guy is a trainee at the BBC Harry's to come down to London to do the weekend sport sports presenter and sometimes on a really good day.
They would get me to work with Harry and describes himself, but rather a few of them and he was he right transcript some time to meet around 1 probably and anyways very very nice man.
I know he very often gets the annual RTS Awards royal television Society Awards you very often gets recent presenter of the year and he deserves it.
I'd love that is very good at what he does the pr for the rugby league or something for about 36 years and then he came back and the basically was an outcry wasn't Look North without Harry
Celebrity greater than being a regional TV presenter, I think huge in a you're a very big fig and Nicole when does it now even more people like you people it says you enter people's lives are different kind of weird thing for you more of the same a life-changing sum of money to do something else.
You know it's only considering it, but is not like changing sums of money off about the BBC today don't have any of that money anymore now and I'm delivering the W10 version isn't it? That's a no so I got a great job.
I'm very lucky.
You know I got one of the best jobs in in journalism.
It's not for everybody but I do but it is you know if you want to be a TV reporter.
I don't know it's a better job than the one that I've been doing that sometime.
See what else happens.
I sent it but no intention of retiring anything like that.
I got years left in me.
I mean my main thing at the moment is working myself.
I'm trying to before I had my diagnosis cancer.
I've been working out the gym pretty consistently for a few years.
I haven't gone back here come back to it and I was fit actually in better Stead to fight the council.
Help me with the operation and at the resistance of Keyworth to the chemo perhaps, but you know in the end of chemo does get to you.
I did to me and we will discuss the podcast neuropathy and always having this is some horrendous side issues outside issue Frank please it's horrible outside to cancer friendly and the treatment.
But better than the alternative.
I've seen the tweets where you with Piers Morgan Susanna Reid and Sophie you meet every so often during the ivy for well.
Not necessarily ivy but we have been in the Ivy and appear on the next level so can I use to have lunch with peers when we were presenting breakfast which was nearly 20-years ago and he was the editor of The Mirror at the time and you know and moving cost of people but the last one we had I think since last one was yet was with Hannah and Sophie herself.
Appears and it was a very very pleasant lunch and he's done this and I said I'd love Piers on and he said he said I'll give you a personal email address on condition that it was me to come on the This podcast me reply, so well.
Thank you, but you know if you were me, would you come on be honest and I said probably not and peers is a great guy.
I mean he is a good friend of mine and is very dedicated to his family as well as his he's a really sharp journalist.
I know some people don't like his public persona and you but that's the way.
That's the Republic peers and as brilliant as well.
I actually have ITV Good Morning Britain on series link when I get home at night.
I watch the first 5:50 a.m.
Bit when is ranting and raving and a meal at kohl's that baby 6 a.m.
There's quite a few people like me that just want to watch that first 10 minutes because they don't get to the newstalk 106 The Prodigy manager is brilliant television is great and I bet they are delighted to rant and rave minutes on vegan sausage rolls for example that kind of opinion, but you never know if life-changing sum of money.
I'm not even tried but no, I don't think I'm very happy the BBC and the BBC is being has been good to me.
Has given me many opportunities to be a real privilege actually have a many years to go to so many parts of the world so many big stories will taking stories and have a chance to be the person who communicates them two are very large audience not just in this country really all around the world and do you know and they have employers to me as well and of course of my illness so no, I'm at what's the thing that you do in your career if you could pick one of the most proud of examples 3 bestsellers well, you know I can't point to one particular thing.
I can't point to one particular thing and I am I coming to the with my favourite places are I got a list but the reporting a different bars near in the 90s definitely?
And stuff I've done from the Middle East lots of stories and assassination of her being in 95 to Aaliyah from that the Gulf war everything that's happened since you know the answers 2011 as well that means so many stories.
I'm really love to try to elevate one head of all the others because there are so many and what's great is the chance.
I've had to use human beings and with human nature in all its glory.
You know you see the absolute worst of Human Nature I've seen the worst of Human Nature I was in the best of human nature is really two types of people those that are kind of that a decent and other don't do you think it is.
I think I might be a bit more complicated people as well who who might start out quite kind and decent but circumstances pushing a very different Direction and and so there are you know those the bad what's bad about humans and what's good about them can sometimes coexist in the same person the psychology of people most interest you could say you'll see the good and the bad.
I do and the world at the moment.
It's a difficult and dangerous place people are unhappy.
How much talking about people involved in wars.
Just generally unhappy very often with their lives stressed out busy other works exactly how to switch off and that's the job and the uncertainty of a globalisation and that's why you know simple messages coming from sometimes unscrupulous politicians popular.
Politicians who aren't interested in the subtleties of an argument there and receiving a very simple and direct message that can be a very effective way of communicating with really dissatisfied with the lives that they have what advice.
Would you give to someone starting out in their career in journalism? That's inspired by your journey that wants to be the next year next one for the next BBC middle east correspondent.
I would say we'll get some decent training you know this is not rocket science things you need to know there's some very good postgraduate courses with Tommy Robinson would have got one of them.
I have a voided or 12 months in prison.
Just from simply know that you can't report the findings of a guilty before you know but the yeah so get some training that's very poor thing for a journalist and then be aware of.
Whatever world year in which other part of the world you and you know I have some interest in what's happening and think of ways as well and would you can tell the story of people over the years ago when I was just starting out and in the days when after the 6:00 news everybody go to the bar doesn't have a drinking but back then there was this is why who is who is anchoring the earliest I can remember the 6:00 news was Nicholas Witchell I can only the blue graphic but a lot of people from the production team and sound.
Have a few drinks and one of the other one of the senior reporters that he said you know this game has job.
So you know you telling a story to someone and it's like imagine you in the by said you tell me a story on you.
You'll never guess you said you'll never guess what I said well.
This is going on with that.
You'll never guess this is happening you explain the whole thing like that and if you think of it.
No terms might be much simpler in journalism.
It's there are loads of opportunities.
Many ways into it probably more ways into it than they were when I started out and it's certainly given an extremely interesting 35 years and I and many more to come I hope and I would certainly if I want to do it I recommend that you know it is not you know there's a price sometimes the tax do anything that's good nothing in life comes free and to be the kind of journalists that I've been and whatever we must understand how this kind of Craig's I don't travel so much fun.
For many years I don't tend to do it now but for many years.
I would I would leave at the drop of a hat.
I would not turn up two parties even part of giving me I would I would miss things no friends of mine have been killed one friend and colleague mine was killed while I was with him.
You know these things all leave a Mark and I don't know and you know I've been I was shot with them, but shot once I've been robbed at gunpoint.
I've been bashed around I've been thrown into jail been arrested.
I'll be have my life threatened on numerous occasions.
I've been in situations where there's been you know asterisk or shelling and I thought I'm going to die now.
So any community that can't be good to say yes, I've also at the same time done some amazing stories and sometimes though less than ideal experiences of part of the you know the overall picture, but all I'm saying is that being a foreign correspondent and the kind of foreign crossbow.
I've been is it's not for everybody and really the very small group of us.
Who do it and over the years and hotels around the world is not for everybody but there is a price tag could be forgiven if you said well for next 10 years.
I quite like to do something where everyone is out to kill me and you know cos that's it.
That's a lot of pain psychological and physical just go to.
I do other stuff as well in the region my is my that's my my turf is it where in the BBC's quite keen to keep people on their reservations? I don't know I don't want to be running around in Wallsend I'd say forever.
No I certainly don't but we'll see what happens.
You know I just need a good offer a hugely conversation and I'm so grateful eat at the time of the podcast.
It's been a pleasure.
Thank you very much association with big things Media
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