Celebrity gappers

Natasha Kaplinsky, who presents Breakfast on BBC1, spent 10 months in 1992 working in the press office of Neil Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party. Kinnock had lost the General Election that April and Natasha was required to answer all the letters he received, as well as delivering post to Downing Street and attending press briefings.

"It was fascinating work," she says. "I do not know anybody who has had such an extraordinary and exciting year out. It gave me an insight into politics and the way the press worked, which was my initial inspiration to get involved in journalism."

The comedian Rory Bremner has always been passionate about languages. When he left school at 18 he joined a Gap Activity Project in Berlin. Now, 24 years later, the man regarded as one of Britain's sharpest satirists still fondly remembers his year out. "The experience changed my life," says Rory. "It improved my German, which is something I wanted and I learnt a lot about myself."

Rory went on to study German and French at King's College, London.

Journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow spent his gap year, back in 1967, teaching English in Kamuli College, Uganda, with Voluntary Service Overseas.

"The year out gave me the scope to stretch myself and discover a resourcefulness I never knew I had," says Jon. "The discovery of real peoºple beyond the tiny world I occupied in England had a profound impact on my attitudes. It also inspired me to write - nothing more than letters to loved ones, but each chronicling the smallest detail of everyday life. In part, the experience led me to journalism and I still use the skills I learnt there."

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