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Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2003 09:00 UK

Martha Kearney

Martha Kearney

Martha began her career in commercial broadcasting at LBC/IRN radio, off Fleet Street in London. Initially a phone operator on the Brian Hayes programme, she became a reporter, presenter and then a lobby correspondent.

Martha made her first appearance on BBC TV News during the 1987 election when she was hit by an egg. The missile was intended for David Steel whose campaign she was covering for Independent Radio News. It made her an expert witness on egg throwing years later on Newsnight after the Prescott punch.

Martha spent a year on A Week in Politics on Channel Four before joining the BBC political programme On The Record in 1988. During her time there she made political films, including the first television profile of John Major and a film with exclusive access to the Clinton campaign headquarters in 1992. She also worked on Panorama.

In the late eighties Martha began to report from Northern Ireland, tracking the secret negotiations which led to the Belfast Agreement. She continued to specialise in Northern Ireland on joining Newsnight in 1994: building contacts amongst Republicans and Loyalists; talking to prisoners in the Maze; reporting live from the riots at Drumcree. In 1994 Martha was nominated for a BAFTA for that coverage.

In 2000 she became Newsnight's political editor, contributing to the programme with filmed reports and live "2 ways" in the studio. (She has observed over the years that the more adverse the weather conditions, the longer Jeremy is likely to interview her.)

After 9/11 Martha covered Tony Blair's whirlwind of diplomacy around the Middle East, interviewing the Prime Minister in the Omani desert and on his plane. In 2002 she went to Afghanistan to cover the loya jirga where she got an exclusive interview with the war lord Sayaf.

In 2003 Martha attended the Hutton inquiry and reported for Newsnight each evening. In 2004 her film about Jack Straw at the United Nations (during the week of the Bigley kidnapping) made headlines around the world when his handshake with Robert Mugabe was captured on camera by her Newsnight producer Liz Gibbons. The 2005 election was the fifth campaign Martha has covered.

Radio has also been an important part of Martha's career. Since 1998 she has been a presenter on Woman's Hour. In 2004 Martha was named (with Jenni Murray) the TRIC radio presenter of the year. She has also won a Sony Bronze for a special on child poverty.

Most recently, Martha has been awarded House Magazine Political Commentator of the Year (voted by MPs and peers) and was chair of the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.

She currently presents Radio 4's The World at One programme as well as Newsnight Review.


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