Martin Bell

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“News is always about people”

Born : 1938 Redisham, Suffolk, England.

Education : 1st Class honours degree in English. King’s College Cambridge.

Awards :  Royal Television Society’s Reporter of the Year Award, 1977 and 1993. Appointed  Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), 1992. Unicef Ambassador 2001

Martin Bell OBE is one of the best-known and most highly regarded names in British television journalism.He was among those who defined the term “war correspondent”.

He joined the BBC as a reporter in Norwich in 1962 as a 24-year-old graduate. Three years later he moved to London and soon he was in Ghana on his first foreign assignment.

Over the next 30 years, he reported from 80 countries and covered 11 conflicts. He made his name in Vietnam in the 1960s, and covered wars in the Middle East, Nigeria, Angola and Rwanda, as well as numerous assignments in Northern Ireland.

He was badly wounded by shrapnel in 1992, whilst covering the war in Bosnia. His “lucky” white suit let him down for once.

Martin Bell left the BBC in April 1997 to stand as an Independent against the MP for Tatton Neil Hamilton.  Bell won with an 11,077-vote majority.

In 2001, Bell was appointed UNICEF Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies. Assignments for UNICEF have included Tajikistan, Burundi, Kosovo, Malawi, Iraq Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur , Afghanistan and Somalia.

Martin Bell made a brief return to television news in 2003 when he provided analysis of the Iraq invasion for ITN’s Channel Five News.The short films he compiled from the daily video footage brought a unique humanitarian perspective to the events in stark contrast to the coverage of much of mainstream media.

It was once said of ITN’s Sandy Gall and myself that we had faces like the relief maps of the countries we were covering. The country in his case was Afghanistan and in mine was Bosnia – neither of which is blessed with regular features. But film-star good looks were not then in the job description.” Martin Bell.

›Martin Bell interviewed on his career at The Frontline Club:

Martin Bell visits new BBC Newsroom 2013


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