My Mentor: Lucy Cotter On Martin Bell

'The funniest piece of advice he gave me was never to marry another journalist'

Martin Bell stood as an independent candidate for Tatton in the 1997 general election and his anti-sleaze campaign against the Hamiltons was probably the most exciting in the country. My parents were campaigning for him and I went along for the ride.

Everyone seemed to be disillusioned with politics, especially in Cheshire. There was a lot of anger about the Hamiltons but Martin inspired people. He stood above party politics, and above all the dirty party politics, at a time when it was really important to do so. I knew he was a huge figure in news but I met him as a politician and I was hooked as soon as I saw him striding around in his white suit.

In his office there was a real buzz and expectation of change. When he won, the party was fantastic.

I stayed in touch, later doing work experience with him at the Commons. Some politicians take their careers more seriously than their constituents, but Martin never did.

Around that time I started thinking about going into journalism. Like his politics, Martin's journalism was inspiring and worthwhile. He strikes me as straightforward as far as his moral compass is concerned and I think that is one thing which makes him stand apart.

He told me stories about his days as a foreign correspondent and talked to me about how exciting the job was and that it could be a good thing to do. From then on I saw journalism as a worthwhile career.

I interviewed him in a pub in Windsor for a piece I had to do during my postgraduate journalism course. Whenever I have been in touch he always gets straight back to me. The funniest piece of advice he gave me was never to marry another journalist!

I have since worked on The Daily Politics and was a political journalist for Granada Television. I am doing entertainment at the moment which is fun, but I think I will be tempted back to politics eventually.



Martin Bell was a BBC correspondent from 1962 until 1997, when he was elected MP for Tatton, a position he held until 2001. He is now a Unicef ambassador. Lucy Cotter is the ITV London Tonight entertainment reporter.

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