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15th August 2007

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On The Record
Meet the presenter and the editor...

  • John Humphrys - Presenter
  • David Jordan - Editor
  • And get some snappy answers from our reporters...

  • Terry Dignan
  • Paul Wilenius
  • Paola Buonadonna
  • David Grossman
  • Iain Watson


    John Humphrys Born in Cardiff, John worked on the Western Mail before joining the BBC as a reporter. He was the BBC's first full time TV Correspondent in the United States, as well as the youngest TV Foreign Correspondent at 28, covering major stories such as Watergate. He became Diplomatic Correspondent in 1980 and a year later began presenting the Nine O'Clock News.

    Tough and incisive, John has been Presenter of 'On The Record' since September 1993 and also presents the 'Today' programme on Radio 4 as well as (lots of) other work

    In March 1995 some leading Conservative politicians attacked his interviewing style for being too aggressive. The BBC was swamped with letters and phone calls offering their support. The 'Daily Mail' described him as 'one of the most brilliant journalists in the country' and the 'Express' declared 'Humphrys for Prime Minister'.

    John Humphrys eats a banana on set

    John believes that bananas provide all the energy he needs to keep him going through even the toughest of interviews, indeed politicians visiting the 'On The Record' hospitality room before they go on air now count the skins to get some idea of what they are letting themselves in for. A three banana interview means that they must be on their mettle.

    Look out for John's red socks - he always wears them for interviews. It started as an act of rebellion against his daughter when she chastised him for his lack of dress sense, (he hadn't realised his feet were in shot) now it has become a habit.

    Away from politics and current affairs he has a farm that he is converting to organic production. In his spare time he plays the cello and crusades to rid the English language of Americanism and business non-speak.

    John's red socks!


    David Jordan entered television journalism by accident. He started his working life in pressure groups and worked for Age Concern England, at The Low Pay Unit (with its then director Frank Field) and at the GMB Union. He became an expert on low pay, poverty and social security, writing pamphlets and contributing to a number of books on related subjects. In 1984, in the middle of the miners' strike, he was recruited to Weekend World, the flagship current affairs programme at London Weekend Television, then presented by Brian Walden.

    In 1988 he joined his Weekend World colleague David Aaronovitch in a move to the BBC to help set up 'On The Record'. In 1989 he became its Deputy Editor. He was Deputy Editor of 'Panorama' between 1990 and 1992 and whilst there he originated and edited its award-winning expose of Robert Maxwell. As Acting Editor he took the programme through the 1992 General Election before returning to 'On The Record' as its Editor.

    Between 1994 and 1995 he spent a year on attachment as the BBC's Chief Political Advisor before getting back just in time to cover the resignation and re-election of John Major as Conservative Party Leader in 1995.

    Whilst at 'On The Record' he has supervised some of the seminal political interviews of the past decade, as well as promoting the unique graphic style of the programme epitomised by its emblematic crocodile in the title sequence.

    There have been plenty of hair-raising moments along the way though, including on the first ever programme. Twenty minutes to air and there was still no sign in the studio of the interviewee Douglas Hurd, then Home Secretary. As the team's nerves frayed and the minutes ticked by, one of them rang security at the programme's Lime Grove offices to see if he had gone there by mistake. 'No' came the reply, 'I haven't seen the Home Secretary. But there's been a white-haired old geezer sitting here for the past half hour'. The interview went ahead on time - just.

    David Jordan