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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August 2003, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
David Sells biography
David Sells
David Sells works across both radio and televison
David Sells is a Newsnight reporter, specialising in foreign affairs.

He began work long years ago as a greenhorn with Reuters who schooled him in journalism.

Off to the Horse of the Year Show for the Reuters Sports Desk, the new boy returns to his seat to find it occupied by a handsome male clad in a posh, camel-hair coat, side by side with a lady in expensive furs.

"What?" snarls Mr Camel-Hair, when Sells tackles him. "This is a press seat," Sells replies, "and it is mine."

With wonderful ill-grace, the film star, Michael Rennie, gets up with his befurred lady, and departs. A moment of magic. David was Press. He'd arrived.

He became a Reuters correspondent in Rome, covering the Suez Invasion in 1956, then Warsaw, Chief Correspondent in Germany, and manager in Brussels. Deciding after a year and a half that he preferred journalism, he answered a call from the BBC.

Summoned to Head Office in London, he told Reuters boss: "I resign." Back came the response: "Don't be a fool. If you resign, I can't pay you any money. I have to sack you." Thus was a simple lesson learned.

Paris, Prague and Vietnam

He joined the BBC in 1966 as a Radio and TV reporter. He found 1968 a busy year: the riots in Paris, Prague awaiting a Soviet invasion, then some months in Vietnam (with a small world scoop on President Johnson's plan for a bombing halt).

From 1971-76 he was Beirut-based as correspondent for TV News, the first of a new foreign breed for television. In 1976 he presented Radio-4's The World in Focus, a new daily, foreign affairs programme.

He has been with Newsnight since it began in 1980, doing its first foreign report (from Oman). Principal areas of coverage have been Europe and the Middle East, with occasional forays to Japan, the United States and Latin America, not forgetting Cornwall and County Durham, with oodles of on-the-day reporting.

David combined Newsnight with presenting Radio-4's The World Tonight for five years and does occasional documentaries for both radio and TV.


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