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Remembering Mike Donkin

Adrian Van-Klaveren Adrian Van-Klaveren | 12:07 UK time, Friday, 14 December 2007

donkin203.jpgToday was the funeral of Mike Donkin, the BBC News correspondent who died of cancer last week at the age of 56.

There have been many tributes paid to Mike, who was not just a great reporter but a lovely man as well.

I worked with him many times as a television producer on the Six and Nine O’Clock news in the 1980s and 90s. Later, when I was running Newsgathering, Mike was providing radio and television reports of the highest quality from a huge variety of locations – he was always someone you could rely on absolutely to get the best from an assignment or story.

In tribute to Mike we have assembled a collection of some of his memorable reports. In 2002 he defied Robert Mugabe’s ban on BBC journalists entering Zimbabwe with some graphic reporting on conditions in the country. You can watch some of the results here.

iraqbaghdad.jpgIraq was a country Mike visited at various points in its recent troubled history. What Mike always tried to do was to make his stories come alive by telling the story of ordinary people and that is particularly true in this piece.

One of the great things about Mike was the range of subjects he could cover. He was not a war specialist or someone who could only comfortably deal with softer features. His reports from the Pacific, as the world prepared for the new millennium, showed one of his defining characteristics - his power with the English language.

Libya is not an easy place to gain people’s trust and openness but this account shows how Mike made the effort to talk to people and get them to open up.

And in one of his final assignments Mike explored a theme of our age – the impact of migration across Europe. Being Mike, he found a fresh angle and produced a vivid report, again based around the accounts of the people directly affected.

On this day more than any other, I think it’s right we allow Mike’s reporting to speak for him. His death has left a sense of loss and shock for all those who knew him in BBC News. We often talk about the values we stand for; Mike was a great embodiment of them.


  • 1.
  • At 08:24 PM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Tony Allaway wrote:

How sad to read the news about Mike and I would be grateful if it was possible to pass on my condolences to his family. I knew him for the brief period that he worked in Iran in the 70s when I commissioned him to do pieces for the local English language paper Kayhan International. A piece of photo-journalism on the tinning process in Tehran's bazaar particularly stands out in my memory. In return, Mike gave me my first (and only) break into television when he went on to work for the Iranian English language TV channel. He got me to overlay a commentary onto a tape of the Arsenal-Ipswich FA Cup Final of 1978. (I think he knew I was an Ipswich fan when he asked!) Don't know if it was ever aired or not though. But Mike was a great guy to know and I could see his heart was in broadcasting, which he went on to do with aplomb.

  • 2.
  • At 10:06 PM on 15 Dec 2007,
  • David wrote:

The name was familiar but I only remembered Mr Donkin after listening to the reports you placed on the web. The calm and clear voice and the beautiful English. There are many fine reporters at the BBC but some could learn from his style and professionalism.

He will be missed.

  • 3.
  • At 01:44 AM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • nick colangelo wrote:

i was touched by your remembering of a friend.

  • 4.
  • At 11:06 AM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Wendy wrote:

I remember Mike on Radio Oxford when I was a kid in the 1970s. He did a competition called "Where am I now?" describing his location. He moved on to greater things, like most local radio journalists (Libby Purvis was one of his colleagues). It is sad he has gone while so young.

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