After more than forty-five years in journalism, John has developed the enviable reputation as the journalist politicians fear to face most. He is the man with all the questions – and 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 the ‘Northern Industrial Correspondent’. He also covered the troubles in 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 relocated to South Africa in 1977.
During his BBC career, John has presented the ‘Nine O’clock News’, ‘Panorama’ and ‘You Decide’ on television, and ‘On the Ropes’ for Radio 4.
John was of course synonymous with Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme where he regularly took the nation’s politicians to task while the rest of the country were still having their breakfast.
John has won many awards, including 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. In 2003 he received the ‘Sony Gold 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 inspired comment, "Taking on a Cabinet minister is as nothing to handling three tons of kicking cow."
So, who better to grill quiz contestants as the new presenter of Mastermind when the series returned in 2003? sixteen years, and many thousands of questions later, he’s now into his 17th series.