CV: Tom Bradby - Political Correspondent, ITN

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The Independent Online
I was at Edinburgh University from 1986 to 1990, studying history. I'd always wanted to be a journalist, and I did quite a bit of student journalism, which really took off for me when I became editor of the student newspaper. And there was a really huge buzz about it: it was the last gasp of the Eighties boom, and lots of milkround companies were advertising with us. At one point, we had about 32 full-page adverts from these companies in the paper, and I think it was the only time in its history that it made a profit.

I also helped start up a student supplement for The Scotsman, and did a lot of work experience with local newspapers. In my first summer vacation, I worked for a free local paper called the Manchester Metro News, where I was so clueless that I'm embarrassed to think back to it now. But I did learn to touch type, so I was a bit better when, at the end of my second year, I worked on my own local paper, the Portsmouth Evening News. And, when I came to apply for jobs, I think everything I'd done - particularly things like The Scotsman supplement - really helped.

I thought I'd end up in newspapers. I was offered jobs by The Scotsman, The Times and The Sunday Times. But I also applied for the ITN training scheme, and was accepted. What made me choose television over newspapers ultimately is that it is a very powerful medium - you get 7 or 8 million people watching News at Ten. I also thought the performance aspect of it would be fun, and that I would enjoy working with a team. And the trainee scheme was very good; I was given all kinds of opportunities. I went to Tibet and did some secret filming, pretending to be a tourist, and then to Belfast.

I suppose that was my first big break at ITN. The producer there had just left and rather than replace him, they just left me there for three months - there was an election coming up and they needed people elsewhere. It was very busy, and I ended up doing my very first News at Ten piece - on Michael Mates being appointed Northern Ireland security minister - because one day everyone else was doing something else down in the south of Ireland.

The difficult thing at ITN is working your way across to being an on- screen reporter, and I think at one stage I was working almost every single day for six months to that end, producing during the week, and reporting at weekends. But in 1993, when I was 26, they made me Ireland correspondent - ITN's youngest ever.

When I got the job, there was a certain degree of boredom, because the conflict had been going on for over 25 years, and it was a very depressing story. But, in my first or second week, the first inklings of the peace process emerged, and it became this absolutely huge story. I was on News at Ten night after night, and I was out meeting intelligence people, terrorists, and politicians, trying to make sense of this incredibly complex picture. A high point was Bill Clinton's visit in 1995, which was perhaps the most incredible story I've ever reported on.

But, after almost three years, I thought I'd been in that job long enough. And ITN wanted me back in London, as a general election might be called at any time. When it came, I covered John Major's campaign, and it was very difficult to report on: it looked so hopeless for the Tories, but of course I couldn't say that they all thought they were going to lose. The day after, I said to a senior guy from Tory Central Office: "You didn't really think you were going to win, did you?" He said: "I always try and tell the truth to journalists, but you can't do that in a campaign when you think you're going to lose."

Since then, I've been abroad quite a bit. And I've just had a novel published, which I started writing while I was in Ireland, as a hobby. But ITN remains my priority - I'd like to go abroad again - so now I'm working to that end.

Tom Bradby's novel, `Shadow Dancer', is published by Bantam Press, price pounds 12.99.