On TV I present Newswatch on BBC1 and the BBC News channel. On radio I present Front Row on Radio 4 and I make R3 and R4 documentaries on all kinds of ideas – from David Bowie and Oliver Cromwell’s wife to Westerns and HG Wells and the atomic bomb. I’m currently working on a Radio 3 Sunday Feature about John Ruskin and girls’ education. You can hear me as an occasional panellist on The News Quiz and a presenter on The Forum (BBC World Service) and I chair London Thinks discussions at Conway Hall. This is one I put together recently about the ethics of Star Wars. I presented the ethics discussion show Sunday Morning Live on BBC1 till 2013.
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 2015 programme. I’ve presented BBC Radio 4 News and Current Affairs and Arts programmes 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 Have I Got News for You and The Review Show.
I make documentaries for Radio 3 and 4 drawing on my fascination with the intersection between popular culture, politics and social history. These 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.
I also love exploring such issues in my monthly Big Issue magazine column.
Since 2011 I have been a Visiting Professor of Journalism at Kingston University giving talks and bringing in guests to discuss news writing, filmmaking and interview technique. I give talks and lecture regularly on journalism at secondary schools and universities.
I am a trustee of Action For Stammering Children, which runs the Michael Palin Centre in London and on the associate advisory board of the National 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 Independent, The Guardian and for The Spectator website. 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 20 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.