Nigel Chapman: My Life In Media

'I mixed up images of Deng Xiaoping and another Chinese leader on Newsnight. The presenter had to apologise'
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The Independent Online

Nigel Chapman, 49, is director of BBC World Service. After studying English literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, he joined the BBC as a trainee in 1977. Last week he announced the biggest transformation of the World Service in 70 years, including a new Arabic television service and a greater online presence. He is married with two children and lives in Oxford.

So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

Watching ground-breaking BBC television such as Panorama, Man Alive and Horizon.

When you were 15, which newspaper did your family get and did you read it?

The Manchester Guardian. And yes, I did read it.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Apart from news, police dramas like Softly Softly and Z-Cars plus Grandstand for sport. On radio, The World at One presented by William Hardcastle.

Describe your job

Leading the BBC World Service to meet the global demand for accurate information, analysis and debate.

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

BBC World Service at 0600 and Today on Radio 4. I read The Guardian, The Times and The Independent on the train to Bush House in central London.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Yes - BBC online services.

What is the best thing about your job?

Knowing that BBC World Service makes a real difference to people's lives in societies which don't have access to accurate and independent media by supplying trusted news.

And the worst?

Attending meetings can restrict my access to breaking news - I miss the buzz of being in a newsroom.

How do you feel you influence the media?

By ensuring that the world's best-known voice in international broadcasting and online sets the standard for accuracy and trust in news and current affairs which competitors strive to match.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Becoming the BBC's first director of BBC Online and working in BBC WS launching seasons on HIV-Aids and the recent Who Runs Your World? theme.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Inadvertently mixing up images of the Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, with another Chinese leader while working on Newsnight. The presenter, John Tusa, had to apologise!

At home, what do you tune in to?

BBC World Service plus a range of BBC output from national stations (Radio 3, 4 and 5) to Radio Oxford.

What is your Sunday paper and favourite magazine?

The Observer and The Economist.

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

Work for an international charity - being "in the field" helping long term to make a difference to people's health, education and welfare. I already chair the World Service Trust which helps to train journalists in some of the poorest countries and do work for Plan UK, which works with children, their families and communities in developing countries.

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

Running a major international charity.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

I admire BBC World Service reporters and correspondents who are in the field gathering news and information often in very difficult and dangerous circumstances.

The CV

1977: BBC news and current affairs trainee.

1989: First editor of Public Eye, BBC2 specialist weekly programme on social policy issues.

1992: Head of Centre, BBC South East. Responsible for local TV and radio, current affairs and political output in London and the south east.

1994: Head of Broadcasting, Midlands and East.

1996: Controller, BBC English Regions, in charge of regional TV and local radio across England.

1999: First director of BBC Online, leading the development of the UK's most popular content website.

2000: Joined BBC World Service as deputy director.

January 2004: Acting director of BBC World Service.

July 2004: Confirmed as director of World Service.

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