My Mentor: Helen Fospero on John Stapleton

'He brings on people's talents in a real nurturing way, without being condescending'

I watched John years ago on Watchdog with his wife Lynn and I'd always thought he was a fine broadcaster. If you ever mention his name, everybody says, "He's the nicest man in telly." And it's true. He's doesn't seem to have an ego.

We first met when I was working at Sky in the early nineties but it was when I ended up at GMTV that I got to know him really well. We used to do the charity "Get Up and Give" campaigns together, and the US election in 2000 was the biggest job I did with him on the road.

We had to have one person in Texas with Bush, one in Nashville with Gore and one in Washington and I remember him being very respectful of that fact that I was US correspondent, and saying, "Which one of those do you want? It's your patch."

Most people wouldn't do that, not somebody as senior as John. But he's very generous-spirited in that he wants you to look as good as you can. He brings on people's talents in a real nurturing way without being condescending, and treats you as an equal.

Since I left GMTV we go out for a good old gossip somewhere every six months and I've ended up running all sorts of work questions by him through our friendship. We're both northern and we've both got backgrounds in newspapers, but he's had such a rich, varied career that whatever situation you put to him he's always been there and done that. The boss of GMTV, Peter McHugh, has always been the other person who's great for advice.

I admire John as a broadcaster because he's been so successful for so many years and is a really solid presence. He has this amazing ability to storytell in a room full of people, which he also manages to do on screen, and he goes to great efforts to make sure his reporting is accurate. As a journalist he's somebody whose book you should take a leaf out of.

Helen Fospero is a presenter for Five News

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