My Life In Media: Andrew Neil


Andrew Neil, 55, has been editor-in-chief since 1996, and publisher since 1999, of the Barclay brothers' Press Holdings, owner of The Business, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Edinburgh Evening News.

Andrew Neil, 55, has been editor-in-chief since 1996, and publisher since 1999, of the Barclay brothers' Press Holdings, owner of The Business, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Edinburgh Evening News. He has presented The Daily Politics on BBC2 and This Week on BBC1 since January 2003. Educated at Paisley Grammar School, he graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Masters degree in politics and economics.

What inspired you to start a career in the media?

I had intended to begin a political career after university, then I thought I'd be more use as a politician if I did something else first. I thought I could do that and keep up my interest in politics and economics by becoming a journalist. The problem was that I enjoyed journalism so much, I never went back to politics.

Cast your mind back to when you were 15. What was the family newspaper and did you read it?

My parents read the Daily Express. But I also had a subscription to The Times.

And what were your favourite television and radio shows?

On TV: Tom and Jerry, Simon Dee Show, Top of the Pops and Man from Uncle; alsoany documentary on current affairs. On radio: Round the Horne and all the comedy shows on the then-Home Service, plus top-20 music on Radio Luxemburg and pirate stations Radio Caroline and Radio Scotland.

What is the best thing about your job?

Getting paid to do things like covering every big political story when you'd probably do it for nothing just for the interest in being at the centre of events.

And the worst?

I'm very lucky there is no "worst".

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings nowadays?

I look at the papers.

Will you be consulting any media sources during the course of the working day?

I always have Sky News on in the background. I grab the Evening Standard and I dip into various websites, especially MediaGuardian and the Drudge Report.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

The successful launch, against all the odds, of Sky Television.

And your most embarrassing?

Using neo-fascist historian David Irving to translate the Goebbels' Diaries for The Sunday Times. Irving did an honest enough job. But using him sullied the whole project - proving the old adage that, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

At home, what will you tune in to?

Channel 4 News, but more often I'm not back until Newsnight. On a quiet night I'll watch the shows I've Sky-plussed - like 24, Spooks and political dramas like the BBC's Dirty War and Channel 4's The Hamburg Cell. In the States I watch The Sopranos and I like Frasier. I hate soaps, and sitcoms in Britain are crap now. The best film I've seen recently was Sky Captain and one of the best films ever is Black Hawk Down.

At the weekends, what is your Sunday paper and do you have any favourite magazines?

All the Sundays are delivered to my home but I pay special attention to The Sunday Times (naturally), Scotland on Sunday and The Business (naturally again, since I'm publisher of both), and The Observer.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

Being editor of the New York Times or anchoring the BBC or ITV results on general election night.

If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?

I guess I would have become a politician... though I might also have had a bash at being a film director.

Who are your best friends in the media?

The team responsible for my shows on BBC1 and BBC2, and some very talented executives and editors running our papers in Edinburgh and London.

Who in the media do you most admire?

Alastair Burnet, my mentor.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea