My Greatest Mistake: Jeremy Bowen, Special correspondent, BBC News

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The Independent Online

Without question, the most embarrassing mistake in my career happened when I was a BBC news trainee in 1985. I was working in the financial unit, which is huge now, but then was just a team of four. We prepared the commodity prices report for the World Service, and one of us had to present a live update every morning. In order to get it on the air at 9.30, I had to be in at 8.30, so imagine my utter horror when I woke up one Monday morning to see that it was already 8.30.

What made it worse was the fact that I had gone to the pub on Sunday afternoon and basically had too much to drink - and had gone to bed at 9pm and slept through everything. I was sure I was going to be fired.

With the most awful sinking feeling, I rang my boss, Ed Mitchell, in Hove to explain and try to mitigate the disaster - but got through to his two-year-old daughter, who would only giggle when I asked, ever more frantically, to speak to her daddy.

When I finally spoke to him, he said that he would ring the World Service for me. I then dashed on to the Tube, grabbing a copy of the Financial Times in the hope that I could ad lib a review of the news for those eight empty minutes.

I arrived 10 minutes before the show was due to start, to find that it had been cancelled. In its place, they had to play solemn classical music. I'm sure thousands of people around the world must have thought that the Queen had died, just because I'd failed to wake up in my flat in Putney.

I honestly thought that this was the end of my career - but the BBC actually gave me a job. In that department.

Ever since then, I have been totally paranoid about early starts. Even though I no longer have sole responsibility for any particular broadcasts, and I know that producers and drivers will always make sure that I arrive on time, I still have to set two alarm clocks at night, and I still wake up before either of them goes off.