The 5-minute Interview: Martin Bell, Broadcaster and former politician

'The McCanns are getting far too much news coverage'
Click to follow

Martin Bell was BBC reporter for more than 30 years, covering conflicts in Vietnam, the Middle East, West Africa, Northern Ireland and Bosnia. Three weeks before the 1997 general election, he stood as an independent parliamentary candidate and won the traditionally Conservative seat of Tatton. He retired from politics four years later to become a Unicef ambassador. His book, 'The Truth That Sticks', is out now.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Firing off a 1,000-word attack about this absurd news agenda whereby the McCanns are just getting far too much coverage.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

Not me. People take too much notice of me.

A phrase I use too often ...

"I'll have to think about that." People often come to me looking for expressions of opinion that I need to give thought to.

The most surprising thing that happened to me ...

Was becoming an MP. Often it's people's ambition for a long time but it just happened to me. I was approached. I enjoy having done it but I found Westminster a very difficult environment.

A common misperception of me is ...

People think I'm very serious but in fact there's nothing I like more than a laugh with my mates.

I am not a politician any more but if I could change one thing ...

It would be to eliminate all party whips. I would like government by consensus and persuasion.

I'm good at ...

Expressing myself in a few words because I spent almost 30 years in television. The problem with many people now is they just don't stop talking.

I'm very bad at ...

I have a punctuality fetish. If people are late I get really, unnecessarily upset about it. Unfortunately, I seem to have a lot of friends who are late.

The ideal night out is ...

Actually a night in with a novel or a really intelligent piece of non-fiction.

In weak moments I ...

Lie low and wait for the storm to blow over. It always does eventually.

You know me as a journalist and former MP but in truer life I'd have been ...

I've sometimes thought I would have like to be a teacher but I'm not sure I would have the patience.

The best age to be is ...

I'm happier now, at 69, than I have ever been.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is ...

Never fight fire with fire.

Alice-Azania Jarvis

Comments