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Broadcaster, former BBC China editor and gender equality campaigner
Carrie Gracie was a BBC journalist for more than three decades and has been a China watcher for even longer. Working for 33 of those years at the BBC before she resigned in 2020, her time there, coupled with her interest in China, have provided the defining themes of her professional life.
Carrie Gracie's 2023 biography
About Carrie Gracie
Born in Bahrain, Carrie grew up in north-east Scotland and ran her own restaurant for a year before earning a first-class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University.
She then spent a year teaching English and Economics at two universities in provincial China; after the isolation and paranoia of the Mao years, young Chinese in the mid-1980s were hungry for contact with the world and Carrie was as fascinatingly foreign to her students as they were to her.
Back in the UK, Carrie joined the BBC World Service as a trainee producer. She learned her craft and returned to China in 1991 as a foreign correspondent. Despite routine surveillance and police harassment, China was a gripping place for a young reporter. So gripping in fact that she stayed for most of the ’90s, returning to the UK only between 1995-96 to finish her BA in Mandarin Chinese at the University of Westminster and her MA in Design for Interactive Media at Middlesex University.
She then returned to China and in 1997 was appointed the BBC’s Beijing bureau chief. By the time the decade drew to a close, Carrie had two small children and serious illness for her daughter convinced her to return to the UK.
For more than a decade, Carrie served as a senior anchor on the BBC News Channel and chaired the weekly BBC World Service programme The Interview. On BBC Radio 4, she occasionally presented PM and The World Tonight.
During these years, Carrie covered every major national and international news story including 9/11, the Iraq war, 7/7, the MPs expenses scandal. But she never gave up her commitment to China coverage. Carrie commentated for the BBC at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and visited China regularly to work on documentaries which went on to win prizes including a Peabody and an Emmy.
Gradually, what had long been clear to her became clear to her bosses in BBC News… that China’s rise was one of the biggest stories of our time but also one of the hardest to tell. In December 2013, the BBC created a new role as China Editor and asked Carrie to take up the post. You won’t be surprised to learn that she felt leading the BBC’s China coverage was the greatest privilege of her professional life.
However, in January 2018, Carrie resigned that post in protest at unequal pay, publishing an open letter to BBC audiences, and later appearing before a parliamentary committee. After a year-long struggle, she won a public apology from the BBC and back-pay. She donated the full sum to the gender equality charity, the Fawcett Society, in order to help fund legal advice for low paid women facing pay discrimination.
Throughout this public dispute and keen to help drive a change in workplace culture at the BBC, Carrie continued to serve as a senior presenter on the BBC News Channel and anchor for the weekly geopolitical panel show Dateline London — a discussion of key international and UK stories with foreign correspondents posted in London. She also worked with the campaigning group BBC Women.
In September 2019, Carrie published her first book, Equal: a Story of Women, Men and Money. She left the BBC in Autumn 2020 feeling that her campaigning work there was complete. She has since embarked on new writing and research projects.
Carrie Gracie's 2023 speaking fees
- United Kingdom
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