Main content

John Humphrys

After more than forty five years in journalism, John Humphrys remains one of the interviewers politicians most fear doing battle with. He has developed an enviable reputation as the journalist politicians fear to face and as the man with all the questions – and the answers – on ‘Britain’s toughest television quiz’.

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

In 1966 John joined the BBC as a reporter 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.

During his career with the BBC, John has also presented the Nine O’clock News, Panorama and You Decide on television and On the Ropes for Radio 4.

John is of course synonymous with Radio 4’s “Today” programme where he regularly takes the nation’s politicians to task while the rest of the country are still having their breakfast.

The many awards John has won include a silver platter for Crystal Clear Broadcasting from the Plain English Campaign. In February 2000, he was named Journalist of the Year in an awards ceremony organised by the House Magazine and Channel 4, then in 2003 received the Gold Sony Radio Award (the radio industry's equivalent of the Oscars).

Away from the TV and Radio studios John spent 10 years trying - and failing - to run an organic dairy farm, an experience that once led him to comment, "Taking on a Cabinet minister is as nothing to handling half a ton of kicking cow."

So who better to grill quiz contestants as the new presenter of Mastermind when the series returned in 2003? Eleven years, and many thousands of questions later he’s now into his 12th series.