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Nicholas Witchell

Nicholas Witchell
Born Nicholas Newton Henshall Witchell
(1953-09-23) 23 September 1953
Cosford, Shropshire, England
Occupation BBC Journalist
Partner(s) Maria Staples
Children 2
Website BBC Profile

Nicholas Newton Henshall Witchell (born 23 September 1953) is an English journalist. He is a newscaster and diplomatic and royal correspondent for BBC News.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Royal correspondent 2
  • Life outside journalism 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life and career

Witchell was born in Shropshire. He was educated at Epsom College, a British public (fee-paying) school in Surrey, and at Leeds University, where he read Law and edited the Leeds Student newspaper. In 1974 Terence Dalton Limited published Witchell's book The Loch Ness Story. The book provides a history of the alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster and includes a chapter entitled 'The "Monster" on Land'. He has worked for the BBC since 1976.[1]

Witchell, along with Sue Lawley, then became the first newsreader of the BBC Six O'Clock News when the programme was launched in 1984. In 1988, the Six O'Clock News studio was invaded during a live broadcast by a group of women protesting against Britain's Section 28 (which prevented councils from promoting homosexuality). Witchell grappled with the protesters and is said to have sat on one woman, provoking the ambiguous frontpage headline in the Daily Mirror, "Beeb man sits on lesbian".[2]

In 1989 he moved from the evening to the breakfast news slot, where he remained for five years.[3] During the 1991 Gulf War he was a volunteer presenter on the BBC Radio 4 News FM service.[4]

He was the first reporter to relay the news of the Lockerbie disaster, the Zeebrugge ferry disaster and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.[3]

Royal correspondent

In 1998, Witchell became a royal and diplomatic correspondent. In 2002, his obituary of The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, recorded some time before her death but screened immediately after the announcement of her death, was reportedly not well received at Buckingham Palace, as it mentioned her lovers and "copious" consumption of whisky.[5]

Witchell provoked royal displeasure again in 2005. At a press conference at the Swiss ski resort of Klosters, Witchell asked The Prince of Wales how he and his sons were feeling about his forthcoming marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles. After a response from his son Prince William, the Prince of Wales said under his breath, and referring to Witchell, "These bloody people. I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is."[6] Witchell himself was then in the headlines. The BBC defended their reporter saying: "He is one of our finest. His question was perfectly reasonable under the circumstances".[6]

Life outside journalism

Witchell is a Governor of Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People, an Officer of the Order of St John and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He has two children and lives in Central London with his long term partner Maria Staples.[2][7]

Witchell appeared as himself in the Doctor Who Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned", broadcast on Christmas Day 2007.[8][9]


  1. ^ Tim Luckhurst "Nicholas Witchell: more touchy than feely"; The Independent, 28 August 2005. Retrieved on 30 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b The Times (31 March 2005). "'"Witchell, the BBC man who 'sat on a lesbian. London. Retrieved 30 October 2006. 
  3. ^ a b About BBC News: Nicholas Witchell profile, BBC News website
  4. ^ Sound Matters - Five Live - the War of Broadcasting House - a morality story
  5. ^ Alexa Baracaia "No stranger to undiplomatic incidents", Evening Standard, 31 March 2005
  6. ^ a b "I hate facing media, says Charles", BBC News, 31 March 2005
  7. ^ "Nicholas Witchell: more touchy than feely". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  8. ^ " 
  9. ^ "Full cast and crew for "Doctor Who" Voyage of the Damned (2007)".  

External links

  • Transcript of interview at Kloisters 31 March 2005, including a video of Witchell's response to Charles's outburst about him
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