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Humphrys keeps audience gripped
VETERAN broadcaster John Humphrys enthralled the audience at a packed City Hall in Salisbury on Thursday.
The BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter, notorious for his ability to put top politicians and other public figures on the spot and demand they answer for their actions, was In the Hot Seat at an event held in aid of his charity The Kitchen Table Charities Trust and for Salisbury-based Childrens Chance.
He was in conversation with fellow journalist Andrew Harvey and the pair spoke for more than an hour before taking questions from the audience.
Humphrys, 70, has been presenting Radio 4’s most popular early morning programme Today since 1987, following a long career that started in the local press in his home country of Wales and led him to become one of the BBC’s best known foreign correspondents and among the first news readers to be a journalist rather than simply a presenter.
He spoke of the first major news story he covered as a young reporter in his early twenties, when he was sent to the mining village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil in 1966, when a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip killed 116 children in the village school along with 28 adults.
“Something like that cannot help but to affect you,” he said.
He spoke of the reaction of the villagers and the emergency services, digging children out of the rubble, “and often these were their own children they were digging for”.
He compared the attitude of those people first on the scene who “saw their job as being to help”
with the compensation that exists today.
Humphrys has interviewed every prime minister since Margaret Thatcher and talked about his job and how “spin” has influenced politics and how politicians react to journalists in the years since Thatcher.
He also hosts Mastermind and gave examples of the ‘interesting’ answers he has been given to questions over the years.
Opening the evening were youngsters from Woodford Valley Primary Academy who sang a song specially written in support of Childrens Chance.
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