John Humphrys speaker

John Humphrys

Veteran Journalist & BBC Radio 4 Presenter

A veteran journalist and the presenter of Mastermind, John Humphrys is known for his honesty and his direct approach to interviews.

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Speaker Profile

About John Humphrys

Background / History

Desmond John Humphrys was born in Splott, Cardiff on the 17th of August 1943. He grew up with four siblings and his hardworking parents encouraged him with his school work. He attended his local grammar school (having passed the eleven plus) but often felt he did not fit in there. At the age of fifteen, he started working as a reporter for the Penarth Times (a local newspaper). He later worked for the Western Mail.


Humphrys first television role was with Television Wales and the West (TWW). He appeared several times on the channel.

In 1966 he joined the BBC, working as a reporter for Liverpool and the surrounding area. His ability as a reporter was clear and he went on to work as a foreign correspondent, travelling abroad extensively. He found that this work mean that he had to spend much of his time away from his family, and was pleased when they were able to accompany him to the USA and then to South Africa, where he covered some of the most pressing issues of the times.

The 1980s Having spent some time in his roles aboard, Humphrys decided he would prefer a more settled life and returned to the UK in 1980. He initially worked as a Diplomat Correspondant for the BBC, before taking up the role of head presenter on the BBCs Nine O'Clock News in 1981. He not only read out the news, but also carried out some of the preparatory work prior to the broadcast.

In 1987, Humphrys left the news and began presenting Today on Radio 4 (though he still appeared sporadically on news broadcasts for the BBC). The show focuses on news and current affairs.

The 1990s and Beyond Humphrys presented On The Record, a BBC political television show, between 1993 and 2002. In 2004 his decision to criticise the violence on some of Britains favourite soaps and the overall dumbing down of television attracted controversy, but also earned him the respect of many. A year later, his criticism of the dishonesty of politicians was leaked to the press.

Over recent years, Humphrys has also present some episodes of Panorama. He currently writes a column for the Daily Mail.

In 2012, Humphrys interviewed George Entwistle (then the director general of the BBC) on Today.  Entwistle resigned the same day, with many believing the interview to be a contributory factor.

Current / Past Roles & Positions

  • Journalist and Presenter
  • Presenter of Radio 4's 'Today'
  • Host of Mastermind
  • Presenter of the Nine O'Clock News (1981 - 1987)
  • Author

Awards, Accolades, Achievements & Honours

  • Journalist of the Year, 2000
  • Gold Sony Radio Award, 2003
  • Plain English Campaign, Silver Platter for Crystal Clear Broadcasting

Speaking Style


John Humphrys is known for his direct manner during interviews, and for his determination to discover the facts relating to topical matters. His experience as a presenter and his knowledge make him an ideal speaker for numerous occasions.

Humphrys and his former wife Edna Wilding were married in 1964 and had two children together. The couple separated in the 1980s, and sadly Wilding later died of cancer.

In the year 2000, Humphrys and newsreader Valerie Sanderson (who was his partner at the time) had a son together. The couple later separated. He is currently in a relationship with Catherine Bennett, who works for the Observer as a journalist. He is an agnostic, but is interested in religion (he has previously presented a Radio 4 show entitled Humphrys in Search of God).

Humphrys founded the Kitchen Table Charities Trust in 2005; its aim is to support small charities which try to reduce poverty and suffering all over the globe.

Speaking Topics

  • UK Politics
  • Chairing conferences
  • Awards Presentation
  • After dinner
  • Moderating discussion forums


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Books By John Humphrys

  • Devil's Advocate (2000)
  • The Great Food Gamble (2002)
  • Between You and I: A Little Book of Bad English (with James Cochrane) (2003)
  • Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (2005)
  • Beyond Words: How Language Reveals the Way We Live Now (2007)
  • In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist (2008)
  • Blue Skies and Black Olives: A Survivor's Tale of Housebuilding and Peacock Chasing in Greece (2010)

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