My Mentor: Lucy Cotter On Martin Bell

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

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.