John Humphrys

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Veteran Journalist and Former Mastermind Host

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After over thirty years on the Today programme, John looks back on a career that has seen him cover some of modern history's most significant moments, from Nixon's resignation to the fall of apartheid. He spent almost 20 years testing the knowledge of the public and celebrities in the famous Mastermind chair, and in writing has examined social change, the environment and religion. After dinner he invites guests to turn the tables and grill him; he’s often asked about evasive politicians’ and their misuse of the English language.


As anchor on Radio 4's flagship Today programme for over thirty years, John Humphrys built a reputation as one of the most distinctive, uncomprosiming and influential voices on radio. In a journalistic career stretching over six decades, he has been described variously as ‘the most feared inquisitor in the land’ and ‘a unique figure in national life’. As well as grilling the great and the occasionally good, John also served as the questioner of celebrities and public alike as host of the television institution Mastermind for almost 20 years.

John was once the BBC’s youngest ever foreign correspondent. He set up bureaux in South Africa and the US, covering Nixon’s resignation and the birth of Zimbabwe. He went on to present the Nine O’Clock News and the weekly political discussion show On The Record. In thirty-two years on the Today programme, its longest-serving presenter, he won many plaudits and awards, including Journalist of the Year, and the Sony Gold Medal for lifetime achievement.

His combative style has seen him branded ‘the John Humphrys problem’ by Labour, who also called on the BBC to do something about him, and accused of ‘poisoning the well of democracy’ by one former Conservative minister. In both cases John and the BBC received overwhelming support from both the public and other politicians.

Outside his broadcasting career, John has published numerous columns and books covering everything from social change to God to how not to build a house in Greece. In
Devil’s Advocate, he looked at the social climate and future scenarios for the nation’s growth. The Great Food Gamble stemmed from his interest in organic farming. Whlist A Day Like Today explores his life from working class Cardiff to covering some of the biggest events in modern history. He also writes extensively on another subject very close to his heart - the misuse and abuse of the English language.

John is a highly experienced conference chair. He also offers audiences the chance to turn the tables and quiz him as part of his after dinner speech, in which he might also reveal how the Queen has repeatedly declined his requests for an interview.

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Agent Recommendation

The nation's foremost interviewer brings a lighter touch than you might imagine when chairing company or industry conferences or hosting awards ceremonies.  His gravitas and credibility however mean that delegates can be assured that their event is not being overtly stage managed nor participants spoon fed - and woe betide anyone who might think that is the case. JLA Agent Tom Mclaughlin

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John Humphrys