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Breakfast Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Scud Stud on the sofa
The BBC's Rageh Omaar in Baghdad
Viz magazine calls him "Britain's best-loved bullet-dodging dreamboat". The New York Post dubbed him the Scud Stud. You can even buy a t-shirt with his face emblazoned on it.

The BBC's Rageh Omaar - who reported from Baghdad throughout the dying days of Saddam Hussein's regime - became a household name without even knowing it.

Then, suddenly, he disappeared from our screens - and we had a fair number of e-mails asking where he'd gone.

  • This morning, Breakfast solved the mystery. We finally caught up with Rageh, who's normally based in Johannesburg, as he enjoyed some R and R in London

    "I went home to my family," he explained. "I hadn't seen them for three months.

    Rageh Omaar in the Breakfast studio
    Rageh: had no idea of his nickname
    "I met the children at the airport and they were gob-smacked. They thought I'd been living in the TV for a couple of weeks."

    Rageh is the BBC's Southern Africa correspondent, based in Johannesburg, but he's been reporting from Iraq on and off for several years.

    Baghdad bubble

    As the war began, he chose to stay in Baghdad, with about 100 or so of the foreign press, including eight BBC Staff.

    "There was a moment when I thought I had made the wrong decision," he told us. "At one point, I thought were going to be there for six months."

    Rageh had no idea of his "scud stud" nickname - or the superstar status of the red fleece which he wore for many interviews.

    "I never realised how many people were watching the reports," he told Bill and Natasha.

    "You live inside a bubble in Baghdad - I never heard about the Scud Stud thing. It's been amazing coming back and being recognised."


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