John Simpson Speaker

John Simpson

BBC World Affairs Editor, Broadcaster, Author & Columnist

John Simpson: Biography highlights

British foreign affairs correspondent, BBC News World Affairs and journalist, John Simpson has been bringing the UK news from more than 120 countries.

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Full biography of John Simpson

John Simpson’s background

Born in 1944 and educated at St Paul’s School and Magdalene College, Cambridge, John Simpson joined the BBC in 1966 and has stayed there ever since.

From 1969-75 he cut his teeth on the troubles in Northern Ireland, and later became a foreign correspondent in Dublin, Brussels and Johannesburg. He covered the Iranian revolution from start to finish in 1978/9, flying with Ayatollah Khomeini to Tehran on his triumphant return. He covered the Falklands War from Latin America, and was in Buenos Aires to watch the fall of the Argentine junta.

He has reported from 140 countries and interviewed around 200 world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher and every other British prime minister since Harold Wilson, every German Chancellor since Willy Brandt and every French President since Giscard d’Estaing. Among others he has interviewed Mrs Gandhi, Emperor Bokassa, Colonel Gadaffi, Bashir al-Asad, Nelson Mandela, and Robert Mugabe. He has covered forty-six wars on four continents, not to mention the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

John dodged the bullets in the Tiananmen Square massacre, danced on top of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and was on hand for the revolutions in Czechoslovakia and Romania. He stood alongside Boris Yeltsin during the KGB coup which brought down the Soviet Union in 1991, and was the first Western journalist to penetrate the KGB headquarters in Moscow.

In 1994 he reported on the end of apartheid in South Africa, and often met Nelson Mandela. He watched the missiles fall on Baghdad in the first Gulf War, and was in Northern Iraq during the 2003 invasion, where he almost died in an American bombing which killed 18 people.

He reported on the fall of Kabul in 2001, the contested election in Iran in 2009, and the revolutions in Egypt and Libya in 2011. He slipped into Zimbabwe under cover several times, reporting live from Harare, and in 2010 he evaded the Burmese authorities to interview Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

John has received most of the broadcasting industry’s main awards, including RTS journalist of the year (twice), three BAFTAs, an Emmy, Monte-Carlo TV Festival’s Golden Nymph, and the Bayeux award for war reporting. He is an honorary fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, a freeman of the City of London, and president of The Chelsea Society. In 1991 he was awarded a CBE.

In October 2018, John released a new novel, Moscow, Midnight – “The revelatory thriller from the much-admired and million copy-selling journalist”.

John is internationally recognised as a leading authority on world politics, international and current affairs as an author, broadcaster and television journalist. He is an excellent moderator, host and presenter and speaks on leadership, motivation, media, press relations and travel. In addition to world affairs John has extensive knowledge of Brexit and UK Politics.



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Available for:

Advertising Campaign
After Dinner Engagement
Brand Endorsement
Guest Appearance
Moderating and Emcee
TV and Media

Watch John in action

1/5 videos
John Simpson | Full Address and Q&A | Oxford Union
John Simpson | Full Address and Q&A | Oxford Union
BBC World Affairs Editor: "certainties are collapsing" | John Simpson
BBC World Affairs Editor: "certainties are collapsing" | John Simpson
John Simpson on the 'future of Africa'
John Simpson on the 'future of Africa'
Veteran BBC journalist, John Simpson, on the decline of democracy (This Week, Feb 2018)
Veteran BBC journalist, John Simpson, on the decline of democracy (This Week, Feb 2018)
John Simpson On His New Novel 'Moscow Midnight' | Good Morning Britain
John Simpson On His New Novel 'Moscow Midnight' | Good Morning Britain
WDR Germany

Your laudatory speech has made a great impression on the audience present in the studio as well as on our viewers at home.'

Intelligence Squared

'Our postbag was full the next day and the feedback has been very positive with the audience finding the debate extremely stimulating.'

Petrofac Petroleum

'Staff and clients not only enjoyed John's amusing anecdotes, they found the more serious topics he covered captivating.'

The Marketing & Media Conference

'There was a buzz of excitement all day. From the calls and notes we've had it's clear that delegates thoroughly enjoyed your session.'

Conference in Dusseldorf

'He talks with passion and genuine enthusiasm about the things he's witnessed, resulting in people hanging on to his every word.'

HealthTech and Medicines KTN

'I found Mr Simpson a humble, warm, engaging and extremely articulate man. He was able to make a marked impression.'

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