The Newsnight presenter also confesses her most awkward on-air momentby Prospect Team / October 11, 2019 / Leave a comment
What is the first news event you can recall?
I remember the Silver Jubilee clearly because we had a fancy dress street party in Sheffield. I dressed up as a Japanese girl with a too-big red kimono—cultural appropriation hadn’t been invented in 1977. I was six. Three years later, there was the bombing of Bologna train station by Italian neo-fascists. I remember hearing that one of the dead was a three-year-old girl and being unable to process how someone that young could become a victim of terrorism.
What is the biggest problem of all?
High humidity leading to rain and/or frizzy hair on a live broadcast. Alternatively, the idea that expertise doesn’t matter, wisdom and experience count for little.
If you could spend a day in one place at one moment in history, when and where would that be?
I would choose Bucharest, outside the presidential palace in December 1989, watching Ceau ̧sescu appear on the balcony and seeing how the mood of the crowd suddenly changes and sours about 10 minutes into his speech. You can actually see his expression change from dominance, to pure incomprehension until he realises he’s reached his end. He was executed by firing squad four days later. I took my son to that spot a few years ago and in baking heat we played the old film footage as we sat on the ground underneath that very balcony.
What is your favourite quotation?
“Time held me green and dying,/though I sang in my chains like the sea.” Dylan Thomas. I’ve had 30 years to think about what it means and I still don’t know. But it makes me feel very mortal, and urgent—as if there is still so much to do.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have facial blindness. It’s hugely embarrassing as it makes me seem supercilious or snobbish. You learn to create ambiguous greetings like “Really nice to see you,” which could cover an old acquaintance or someone you’re meeting for the first time. My husband often stands behind me muttering “she works in antiques, they gave us the fish kettle for our wedding,” or “you interviewed him for Newsnight last year, used to go out with Liz Hurley.”
What frightens you most?
Miscarriages of justice. Sally Clark, for example, who lost…