My Mentor: Heny Bonsu on Mike Embley
'He believed in what I told him, which is hugely important for a researcher'
Monday 02 June 2008
I started working with Mike Embley at a time when my ego and self-esteem were feeling severely bruised by an experience with the first production team I'd worked with at the BBC.
I started off as a research trainee on a minorities scheme, which tended not to be as well resourced, as well backed and as well regarded as the producer and news trainee schemes. When producers suddenly found themselves lumbered with someone who they assumed was part of some equal opportunities programme, they often didn't pay as much attention to him or her.
Working with Mike was a completely different experience. We were doing a programme about the Animal Liberation Front and animal rights. He took a real personal interest in it, and he was patient and always clear what the story should be.
We got on really well and I was given a fair amount of independence. I went up to Oxford and met a number of "animal defenders", as they call themselves, and then I would go back to London and have the debrief with Mike. He believed what I told him, which is hugely important for a researcher, because you then believe that you're having an impact on the production process.
He was also a gentleman. Many of the people you meet in that environment have no patience and obsessively cover their own backs. He took the time to tell me what was required of a researcher and how he used to research. He taught me to come up with some alternatives and gave me new ideas to try. He even found me accommodation with his brother in law.
I was very proud when the programme came out as I realised what I had brought to it and it was one of the best regarded programmes in the series. He gave me direction and I hadn't got any elsewhere. You do need someone like that, especially when you're young and vulnerable, and especially in an area that you may not be culturally familiar with.
Mike Embley is a BBC World News and BBC News channel presenter. Henry Bonsu is a founder of Colourful Radio
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