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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 00:40 GMT
Sue Lawley: 30 years behind the mike
Lawley and Peter Snow l
Lawley and Peter Snow launching BBC's Water Week
Veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley has been the authoritative figurehead of BBC news, her own chatshow, and, of course, Radio 4's much-loved Desert Island Discs.

Lawley, who is to be made an OBE for services to broadcasting, has been a familiar face and voice for the past 30 years.

Some of her most memorable moments include interviews with Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, Sir Paul McCartney and Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

She was also famous for remaining unruffled when lesbian protesters broke into the BBC's Six O'Clock newsroom while she was on air, the night before Section 28 became law.

"We have rather been invaded," she said, as she continued to read the news while the protesters handcuffed themselves to bits of studio equipment.

Lawley is also famous for news presenting
She also hit headlines for her grilling of the then shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown in 1996, over his sexuality, on Desert Island Discs.

It brought criticism from the widow of Roy Plomley, who originated the show, for quizzing guests about their sex lives.

Lawley's response was direct.

"I genuinely do not set out to make headlines," she said. "But once people have agreed to take part they have given licence for me to ask about all aspects of their lives."

Born in Dudley in the west Midlands, Lawley started her career as a trainee journalist with the Western Mail and the South Wales Echo in Cardiff.

'What's mine is mine'

She joined the BBC in 1970 in Portsmouth as a freelance researcher.

In 1972, she became one of the main presenters of the early evening current affairs programme, Nationwide.

Since then she has made her name as a newscaster, presenting the Nine O'Clock News from 1981-1982 and the Six O'Clock News between 1983 and 1988.

She has also worked on the BBC's coverage of four general elections. Lawley has acted as stand-in for Sir Robin Day on Question Time, and for Terry Wogan on Wogan.

She has presented Desert Island Discs for 12 years, and the one guest she still wants on the show is Nelson Mandela.

Famously protective of her privacy, she says she hates the thought of being "cannon fodder" for the press.

"I'm sorry, but what's mine is mine - I don't want to be picked over. I hate being vox-popped by newspapers for an instant quote. That's the way I am."

See also:

03 Aug 00 | UK Politics
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