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John Humphrys

AUDIO : John Humphrys reports on the controversial execution of Gary Gilmore in the United States

Mention John Humphrys, and most people will give you one of two replies: the Today programme, and tough interviewing.

Since he joined BBC Radio 4's flagship current affairs breakfast programme in 1987, John Humphrys' name has become a byword for combative interviewing.

He has developed an enviable reputation as the journalist politicians fear to face, and although his style has occasionally been controversial, it also earned him the Journalist of the Year award for 2000.

John Humphrys was born in Cardiff in 1943, and went to Cardiff High School. He left at 15 to work on local papers, including the Western Mail.

He joined the BBC as a reporter in 1966, based in Liverpool. A year later, he became northern industrial correspondent. He also covered Northern Ireland before becoming a foreign correspondent, with the India-Pakistan War among his first assignments abroad.

He became the BBC's first full-time television correspondent in the USA aged 28. He spent six years there, covering the Watergate affair and the resignation of President Nixon, and then relocated to South Africa in 1977.

He returned home three years later as a diplomatic correspondent, and then turned to presenting on the Nine O'Clock News. He presented BBC1's On the Record between 1993 and 2002.

He has won just about all the national awards … including the "Oscar of Oscars": the Sony Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. The citation read: "He has truly changed the face of radio and the nature of the radio interview for an entire generation."

He has also spent 10 years trying - and failing - to run an organic dairy farm, an experience which once led him to comment, "Taking on a Cabinet minister is as nothing to handling half a ton of kicking cow."

In addition to the Today programme, he also presents On The Ropes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC2's Mastermind.


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