On TV I present Newswatch on BBC1 and the BBC News channel. I was named the British Broadcasting Press Guild Audio Presenter of the Year 2020. On radio I present Front Row on Radio 4 and made three series of the Intelligence Squared podcast How I Found My Voice.
I make documentaries such as Art of Persia (BBC4) which was the first major Western documentary series shot in Iran for forty years. Many explore my fascination about the intersection of culture, politics, science and social change. Like this BBC Boring talks podcast on Carry Ons and Shakespeare.
I won runner up Interview of the Year at the 2017 Sandford St Martin Awards for a World Service Heart and Soul with Terry Waite.
In January 2020 I won a landmark sex discrimination employment tribunal against the BBC for equal pay on Newswatch. I was supported and funded by my union the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
I have been awarded honorary doctorates by City University of London in Social Sciences, UEA (University of East Anglia) in Civil Law, and Kingston University (Doctor of Letters). I am an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.
I presented the ethics discussion show Sunday Morning Live on BBC1 for 2 years. I regularly chair discussions and panel events for major cultural institutions including the British Science Association, the British Museum and annual Question Time events notably for teenagers including for Westminster Abbey, St Albans and Exeter Cathedrals.
My freelance work as a journalist and presenter includes investigating the Rotherham child abuse scandal, the training of British imams to tackle radicalisation and reporting for BBC TV’s General Election Night programmes in 2015 and 2017. I’ve presented BBC Radio 4 News and Current Affairs and Arts programmes Today, The World Tonight, The World This Weekend, PM, Sunday and Profile, the R4 interview strand One To One and Woman’s Hour. I was a regular presenter of the World Service daily arts show The Strand. I have been a panellist on The News Quiz, Have I Got News For You and a presenter on The Forum (BBC World Service) and chaired London Thinks discussions at Conway Hall. This is one I put together about the ethics of Star Wars.
I lecture and give talks about popular culture, including at film screenings like this showing of Flash Gordon in Bristol Rediscovered film festival in Bristol in July 2018.
My audio documentaries for Radio 3 and 4 include: I dressed Ziggy Stardust (about David Bowie and British Asian teenage girls in 70s suburbia) Archive On Four: Riding Into Town (on my and Britain’s love of Westerns) Arnold of the Five Town (June 2014) about Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett and The Fundamentalist Queen on the wife of Oliver Cromwell (November 2014). Here’s a thing I did for Radio 4’s Today programme about Western film music. Other recent Radio 3 Sunday features have explored John Ruskin as a woman’s liberator, HG Wells and the H bomb, and politics and American identity in Laura Ingalls’ Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books. My 2019 Sunday Feature The Victorian Queens of Ancient Egypt explored the impact of the women archaeologists who pioneered Egyptology and major museum collections in the North of England.
I give talks and lecture regularly on journalism/media, politics, feminism at secondary schools and universities, including 9 years as a Visiting Professor at Kingston University in London (2011-19).
I am a trustee of the Centre for Women’s Justice, focussed on legal remedies to tackle violence against women, and on the associate advisory board of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford.
I won the 2009 Stonewall Broadcast of the Year award for my film about “corrective” rape in South Africa. The judges singled out the report as a “shocking piece of television, which cast a light on discrimination suffered by lesbians, all too often overlooked in the media”. I also made the two part Channel 4 documentary series Islam Unveiled (see Featured Videos page). Interview on Woman’s Hour about it here.
My writing for the national press and their websites includes features, interviews and analysis on culture, politics and social affairs for The Guardian, The New Humanist and The New Statesman. I have regularly analysed newspaper coverage on ITV’s Lorraine and Sky News.
My voice over work ranges from news and current affairs documentaries for Channel 4 – The Road to 9/11 (2005) – to revoicing an updated children’s TV classic Emma and Grandpa (2008).
I’ve been a news anchor and correspondent for the BBC (1992-1999) and Channel 4 News (2000-11) interviewing everyone from politicians,and CEOs to First World War veterans and actors. As a correspondent I have been based in Los Angeles, Belfast and Berlin. My reporting has a special focus on culture, politics, education, religion and crime.
After editing ISIS and the Union magazines at Oxford University, where I read English at St Edmund Hall and won the Philip Geddes journalism prize, I took a newspaper postgraduate diploma at City University and joined the BBC as a graduate news trainee in 1992. I have been a reporter on Radio 4’s Today and on Newsnight (1993-4), where I uncovered a major charity scandal and was one of the first journalists to explore the rise of radical Islam on British university campuses. During research for a special report on the two most likely Labour leadership prospects (Messrs Blair and Brown) Tony Blair provided a memorable hour’s conversation, driving me from Oxford to London in his beaten up old car with a leaking radiator.
As the Corporation’s Los Angeles Correspondent (1996-7) I covered the OJ Simpson case, the 96 Presidential Election, the row over recognising Black English “ebonics” as a second language, the campaign for decriminalising medical marijuana, and the launch of the first mass market electric car — the ill fated EV-1 (below).
As a network News Correspondent through the 90s I reported on everything from IRA attacks in London and Belfast, to Princess Diana’s post-divorce life and riots in the Northern towns.
I was a news anchor on BBC World News, BBC News channel and later for Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin (1998) before joining Channel 4 News in 2000.
An interview from Feb 2011 for the City University journalism school about my career so far.
With more than 30 years’ broadcast news experience, I am passionate about telling the complete story. My reporting is characterised by seeking out the voices, and the perspectives that too many news organisations miss or ignore. Speaking fluent Hindi/Urdu and German, as well as French, I’ve found my British Indian/Pakistani and mixed religious background a huge asset to producing the most impartial and inclusive journalism. And I can do Parisian facial gestures, too:
Stuff I like
Westerns, Sci-Fi, great children’s literature and TV, Comics: 60s Marvel, 70s DC (especially Wonder Woman),and Amar Chitra Katha comics from India, plus the 3 greatest cities I’ve lived in: (south) London, Berlin and Los Angeles. I write about them and report on them whenever I can. Especially Westerns.