John Sergeant

John Sergeant (journalist)

John Sergeant is a British journalist.

Personal Life and Education

The son of a missionary who was also a distinguished linguist, he has Russian blood on his mother's side, and was brought up in various places including Jerusalem and Oxford. He was educated at Great Tew Primary School, briefly at the independent Bloxham School near Banbury, in Oxfordshire, and then at the independent Millfield School in Street, a village near Glastonbury in Somerset, followed by Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He also made a name for himself in student comedy revues, with the result that, after graduation, he starred with Alan Bennett in a series of sketch shows on the BBC. He trained as a journalist at Darlington College.

John married Mary Smithies on 4 January 1969 and has two children, Will Sergeant (TV Producer/Director/Writer) and Mike Sergeant (BBC News Reporter) He lives in Ealing, West London.

He is President of the Johnson Society

Broadcast and Journalism

John started his journalistic career as a correspondent for the Liverpool Echo where he worked for around three years before joining the BBC.

John originally joined the BBC as a radio reporter in 1970, covering stories in over 25 countries. He worked as a war reporter in Vietnam and Israel, amongst others and reported the death of the first British soldier during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Later, John covered the opening sessions of the European Parliament and became a Political Correspondent in 1981. He later worked on a documentary called "The Europe We Joined" and has presented BBC Radio 4 programmes, Today and The World At One.

He progressed via newspaper, radio and television journalism to become the BBC's Chief Political Correspondent (from 1992 until 2000). In 2000, he joined ITN as Political Editor, replacing the retiring Michael Brunson. John, himself, retired a few years later - replaced at ITN by Nick Robinson. One of his most memorable moments was when he waited outside the British embassy in Paris for Margaret Thatcher, in the hope of hearing her reaction to the first ballot in the party leadership contest of 1990, only to be pushed aside by her press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham when Thatcher emerged from the building.

For this broadcast, John was nominated for, and won, the British Press Guild award for the most memorable broadcast of the year, beating Paul Gascoigne (who was nominated for bursting into tears during the 1990 Football World Cup Semi-Final against West Germany.)

He had also had an earlier run-in with Thatcher in 1987, when in Moscow, when he made a comment implying that she had already started campaigning for the General Election in June, 1987, despite not having officially declared the contest. "I am serving my country", Thatcher replied - presumably implying that John was not.

Another political scoop was gained when he was granted the only interview with the then Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies after he was forced to resign, following an "error of judgement" on Clapham Common in October, 1998.

Sergeant's impressive appearances on programmes such as Have I Got News For You have made him, once more, a sought-after participant in television comedy and satire shows.

He is currently a reporter for The One Show, and most recently was guest in Countdown's Dictionary Corner with Susie Dent, for the first-ever time.

He was interviwed by Sophie Lam in The Independent in June 2008 about his holiday memories stating: I'm programmed not to be disappointed by holidays.

Sergeant will be competing with partner Kristina Rihanoff in the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing which begins on 20 September 2008.


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