CV: Caroline Wyatt: Bonn Correspondent, BBC

I was born in Australia, and adopted by a diplomat. I first came to England when I was almost two, and then travelled around the world with him.

At 15, when I was living in Berlin, the BBC advertised for a Berlin correspondent, and I thought that would be a very nice job indeed. My other great ambition was to write for Cosmopolitan, because my sister-in-law had been giving me back copies since I was 11 and at the time I thought it was a wonderful magazine.

Back in Britain, I studied German and English at Southampton University, but I didn't really do much about journalism there - apart from producing a poetry and literature magazine full of adolescent angst. But I did go to America on an exchange programme for nine months, to do a journalism course - though every time I tried to write something they would send it back and say "Your spelling is really strange". I also did an internship on Cosmo in New York, which put me off wanting to write for it.

When I'd done my finals my parents asked me what I wanted to do, and I said "Something creative, like journalism". My father said: "That's not creative, that's not a proper job. Why don't you go and join the civil service?" But I insisted I wanted to do a post-grad journalism course, and they said as long as I funded it myself, that was fine. And I did: I applied to City University in London to do a diploma in magazine journalism, and got sponsorship from Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Journals, by doing an attachment to their magazine, Chartered Surveyor Weekly. That's a wonderful grounding in journalism, because if you can make that interesting, you can do anything.

At City, encouraged by my tutor Linda Christmas, I applied to, among other things, the BBC. The interview there was horrible: there were these four blokes sitting round a table, and they asked me questions like "What would you do if you were in Tiananmen Square and somebody set himself on fire saying 'Film me!'?" I said I'd film him, and they said: "You can't spend licence-payers' money on filming people burning themselves. That's not humane!"

But, aged 23, I got the job, and started a two-year news and current affairs traineeship, which taught me the basics of TV and radio. I worked on the Six O'Clock News, the Nine O'Clock News, and in the Radio 4 newsroom. I also did some reporting for Newsroom Southeast - that was the first time I was allowed out with a camera crew, so that was very exciting - and some work in local radio in Birmingham.

I then worked in World Service Television, reporting and producing. In my second week I found myself outputting the bulletins, and occasionally I would be able to get a crew together and go out and do stuff. Another thing I did was organise the foreign correspondents, and I thought I'd really like to be at the other end of that, rather than be stuck in London. So, in 1993, I applied for and got the job of German business correspondent, at the age of 26.

Martin Bell was the Berlin correspondent at this stage, but because there was so much going on in Germany the BBC decided they needed an extra person out there. But the business bit of the title got dropped after a while, because in Germany, you can call everything business: issues that I was covering, like unemployment and factories closing down, are more social than business stories.

Then, after a couple of years, the office was expanded and I became Berlin correspondent. Really exciting things were happening: both the Russians and the Brits were pulling out of Berlin, and it was the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. I'd discovered just before that my grandfather had been a prisoner at Auschwitz, so it was very emotional for me covering that. Of course, in Germany many of the stories are bound up with its history: a couple of weeks ago, for example, they found Goebbels' bunker in Berlin, on the site where they're building the Holocaust Memorial.

Then, last year, my contract came to an end; you're only allowed to stay abroad for four years at a time. So I went back to London, but then the job of Bonn correspondent was advertised, and I knew I wanted to be back in Germany for the next elections - to see whether Chancellor Kohl survives, and what happens with monetary union. And after that, I want to do a bit of radio presenting, and then go to Washington.

It's bloody hard work being a foreign correspondent, but it's so much fun. And you have so much independence - in terms of deciding what angle you're going to take on a story, or even what story you're going to cover in the first place.

Interview by Scott Hughes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project