NICHOLAS ANTHONY "NICK" ROBINSON (born 5 October 1963) is a British
journalist, currently a presenter on the
BBC 's Today programme.
Prior to this he spent ten years as political editor for the BBC, and
he has had many other roles with the broadcaster.
Robinson was interested in politics from a young age, and went on to
Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University, where
he was also President of the Oxford University Conservative
Association . Starting out in broadcasting at
Piccadilly Radio , after
a year as President of the Conservative Party youth group, he worked
his way up as a producer, eventually becoming deputy editor of
Panorama before becoming a political correspondent in 1996.
He became the BBC's chief political correspondent in 1999. Between
2002 and 2005, he worked for
ITV News as political editor, but then
returned to the
BBC assuming the same role.
Known for his confrontational and provocative approach, Robinson has
on several occasions caused a stir with his style of questioning,
particularly of national leaders such as
George W. Bush
George W. Bush . He has
presented programmes such as
Westminster Live , Weekend Breakfast and
Late Night Live on
BBC Radio 5 Live , and
BBC Two . He
earns between £250,000 and £299,999 as a
* 1 Early life
* 2 Political activism
* 3 Career
* 3.1 Early career: 1986–1996
* 3.2 Political correspondent: 1996–2002
ITN political editor: 2002–2005
* 3.4 Return to the BBC: 2005–present
* 4 Criticism
* 5 Personal life
* 6 Bibliography
* 7 References
* 8 External links
Robinson was born in
Macclesfield , Cheshire, in 1963, to a
translator mother and a sales director father. His mother was born in
Shanghai , where her
German-Jewish parents fled during the 1930s . His
father was of English background. His parents first met at Geneva
University in Switzerland, and married three months later.
Robinson was interested in political journalism from the age of
eight. He was educated at
Cheadle Hulme School and University
College, Oxford , where he read
Philosophy, Politics and Economics .
Whilst travelling in Europe in 1982, he survived a car crash in Lille
, France, in which the car, a two-door
Volkswagen Beetle , exploded;
his friends James Nelson and Will Redhead (son of
Brian Redhead , an
earlier presenter of Today on
BBC Radio 4 ) were killed. Robinson was
"severely burned", spent five weeks in hospital and had to defer his
Brian Redhead became Robinson's mentor, and later
encouraged his career in political journalism, giving him a copy of
Tony Benn 's Arguments for Socialism for his birthday. However,
Robinson's early political affiliations were to the right.
Robinson was a founder-member of
Macclesfield Young Conservatives
(YC) and rose through the ranks, becoming Cheshire YC Chairman
(1982–84) and became a key activist in the moderate-controlled North
West Area organisation.
Philip Pedley , as National YC Chairman,
co-opted Robinson onto the YC National Advisory Committee in 1983 and
appointed him National Campaign Director of Youth for Multilateral
Disarmament . Robinson was elected National Vice Chairman in 1985–87
and succeeded a fellow moderate, Richard Fuller , when he was elected
Chairman of the National Young Conservatives on the moderate ticket
against strong right-wing opposition (1987–88).
At university he was President of the Oxford University Conservative
Association in 1985.
EARLY CAREER: 1986–1996
Robinson's first position in broadcasting was at
Piccadilly Radio in
Manchester, which he took up while recovering from his injuries. He
BBC in 1986 as a production trainee, and later worked
extensively as a television and radio producer for a variety of shows
Crimewatch . He then became an assistant
producer for On the Record , and in 1993 was promoted to deputy editor
of Panorama , a position he held for three years. In 1995, whilst
Robinson was at Panorama, he wrote an internal
questioning how an interview with Prime Minister
John Major could be
defended in the run-up to the Scottish local elections. When leaked,
this gained attention from the Labour Party , which perceived it as
the legitimised denial of equal time in the run-up to local elections.
POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: 1996–2002
Michael Portillo for
BBC News in July
2001, close to the
Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster
In 1996 he became a political correspondent, presenting Weekend
Breakfast and Late Night Live on
BBC Radio 5 Live , and in 1997 he
covered the general election for
BBC Radio. In October 1999 he became
BBC News 24 's chief political correspondent, and also presented
Westminster Live . In the run-up to the 2001 general election ,
Robinson started keeping a daily diary of the campaign. Entitled The
Campaign Today, it later became Newslog, and continued to be updated
until Robinson left the BBC. When he returned in 2005 he began a new
blog with the same name.
ITN POLITICAL EDITOR: 2002–2005
Robinson left the
BBC in 2002 to join Independent Television News
(ITN) as the political editor of ITV News.
Tom Bradby , who later
succeeded him in the role, described the appointment as "bold,
imaginative and instantly successful". Robinson stayed with
three years, and caused a major stir early in the 2005 general
election campaign, when a Labour Party poster was unveiled. The poster
claimed the Conservative Party would initiate cuts of £ 35 billion to
public services if elected; Robinson challenged Prime Minister Tony
Blair , claiming the poster was misleading, which forced Blair to
admit the £35 billion figure was "disingenuous".
Later on in the election campaign, Labour announced that Tony Blair
would be making "the most important speech of the campaign" on
immigration, with a specially invited audience. Robinson asked Blair
why there were only white people in the audience, and Blair pointed
out a single Asian man to disprove Robinson. Later, Robinson stated:
"We know that the big two parties carefully select audiences to give a
particular appearance. Is it a great controversy to point this out?
That's informing the audience." On election night, Robinson joined
Jonathan Dimbleby and
Alastair Stewart to reveal the
results with political analysis.
RETURN TO THE BBC: 2005–PRESENT
ITN and was appointed as the
BBC political editor in
Martha Kearney in August 2005, replacing
Andrew Marr .
Robinson continued his provocative approach to journalism, and on
more than one occasion had run-ins with powerful politicians. During
Tony Blair's visit to Israel in 2006 to discuss the Lebanon War ,
journalists were asked not to bring up the ongoing rift with Gordon
Brown . Bradby, then the ITV political editor, asked a question on the
subject but was told it was "disrespectful". Robinson then followed on
the same topic, asking a difficult question on the feud between the
Chancellor and Prime Minister. He was criticised for distracting from
the main issue of the conference, but he argued that "I'm paid to ask
questions ... particularly at a time when there are incredibly serious
allegations ... I react very badly to organised attempts to stop
journalists asking questions." Robinson later criticised Blair's
announcement of his intention to stand down. He explained how he
considered the setup "stage management", and how no journalists were
allowed to ask questions.
In December 2006,
George W. Bush
George W. Bush showed dissatisfaction when he was
asked if he was in denial about the situation in Iraq (the most Bush
had said about the situation was that the increase in attacks was
"unsettling"). Bush replied "It's bad in Iraq. Does that help?". He
had another run-in with Bush at a press conference at
Camp David ,
when Bush asked him "you still hanging around?". He then suggested to
Robinson, with reference to the fact that it was a hot day, that "next
time you should cover your bald head". As Bush walked away, Robinson
replied "I didn't know you cared", to which Bush responded "I don't".
Robinson described his quip as a "fatal error" on his blog. In a
final encounter in 2008, Bush joked with Robinson about still not
wearing his hat.
Robinson continues to keep a political blog on the
BBC website. On 5
May 2006, he said that when he heard about
Charles Clarke 's sacking
in the 2006 Cabinet reshuffle, he was "naked in bed." He later
apologised, saying he was "merely trying to add authenticity. That's
the naked truth". Another post, dated 25 February 2008, criticised
MPs defending Michael Martin against allegations of the misuse of
expenses, which caused controversy in parliament.
As political editor, Robinson worked across the BBC's
politics-related programmes, such as Today on
BBC Radio 4, The Daily
Newsnight . He has been a member of BBC's election night
He has also appeared as a guest on other television programmes,
Children in Need
Children in Need ,
Have I Got News for You and Top Gear .
Robinson has made several documentaries. In May 2011, he presented
The Street That Cut Everything , where residents of a street in
Preston, Lancashire had their council services withdrawn for six weeks
as an experiment. In 2014 he presented The Truth About Immigration
BBC Two .
For radio, he made The Prime Ministers – a 16-part biographical
BBC Radio 4. In advance of the 2015 general election he
made a three-part documentary, entitled Can Democracy Work.
It was announced on 9 July 2015 that, beginning that autumn, Robinson
would become a presenter on the early morning
BBC Radio 4 programme
Today, taking over from
James Naughtie .
Robinson has been criticised for allegedly reporting with a
Alastair Campbell brought up his history of
Conservative affiliations during an interview. Bias was claimed
particularly in the coverage of the 2010 general election ; a Facebook
group entitled "
Nick Robinson should not be the BBC's political
editor" was set up in August 2010. In a 2005 interview with David
Rowan, the UK editor of
Wired News , Robinson insisted "that his
involvement ceased twenty years ago".
On 20 October 2010, following a live
BBC News at Six report outside
Parliament covering the
2010 Spending Review , Robinson silently took
the anti-war, anti-cuts placard that had been waved directly behind
him throughout, broke it in two and stamped on it. Afterwards, another
protester, who had climbed the steps of the gantry where the
broadcasting to film the protest on a mobile phone, said: "You should
be ashamed of yourself, mate. Shame on you!" Robinson replied "I'm not
remotely ashamed of myself. Why should I be ashamed of myself?" He
wrote in his blog afterwards: "I lost my temper and I regret that.
However, as I explained afterwards to the protesters who disrupted my
broadcast, there are many opportunities to debate whether the troops
should be out of Afghanistan without the need to stick a sign on a
long pole and wave it in front of a camera". Some days later,
Robinson read out a jokily ambiguous "letter of apology" on the comedy
Have I Got News for You , broadcast on 4 November 2010.
On the 22 May 2013 edition of the
BBC News at Six, Robinson relayed
the news that the fatal stabbing of an off-duty British soldier in
London that afternoon was being treated by the government as a
terrorist incident, but attracted criticism after quoting a source
describing the perpetrators as being "of Muslim appearance". The BBC
received 43 complaints about Robinson's use of the term, and he issued
an apology on his
BBC blog the following day.
On 11 September 2014, as part of the coverage of the Scottish
independence referendum ,
Nick Robinson had a dispute with Scottish
National Party leader
Alex Salmond . The previous day Robinson had
Lloyds Bank and RBS would be moving their registered
offices from Scotland to London in the event of a "Yes" vote. In the
exchange Robinson asked Salmond two questions: the first about the
economic impact of RBS moving its headquarters; the second, more
general, about why to trust a politician when CEO's of certain
companies advised against independence. In his response, Salmond made
points about how the
BBC had obtained market-sensitive information. A
report was shown on all
BBC evening news programmes later that day as
part of which Robinson stated Salmond had not answered his question
but had instead chosen to lay accusations against the BBC. The BBC
received complaints from viewers over the implication that Salmond had
not answered a question put to him; there was a protest in Glasgow, in
which between 1000 and 2000 protestors called for Robinson to be
BBC responded: "The
BBC considers that the questions were
valid and the overall report balanced and impartial, in line with our
In November 2014, Robinson was covering the count of the Rochester
and Strood by-election . He was seen smiling whilst posing for a
photograph with Jayda Fransen, candidate and deputy leader of Britain
First , a far right-wing party. Robinson stated that he did not know
who Fransen was, and assumed she was a staff member at the count
seeking a "selfie". However, Fransen was wearing a prominent badge
saying "candidate" at the time.
Robinson met his wife Pippa, a relationship counsellor, at university
and they married in 1991. They have three children: Harry, Will and
Alice. He lives in north London, close to Arsenal 's Emirates Stadium
. He is a lifelong Manchester United fan, and enjoys sailing and the
theatre. Robinson is a fan of the rock band Queen ; his ringtone of
one of their songs interrupted a discussion during
Daily Politics in
In early 2015 Robinson underwent surgery to remove a bronchial
carcinoid tumour ; he returned to work at the
BBC on 13 April 2015, as
part of its coverage of the 2015 general election and beyond. The
operation was reported to have been a “complete success”.
* Robinson, Nick. (2012). Live from Downing Street: The Inside Story
of Politics, Power and the Media. Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0-593-06680-5
* Robinson, Nick (2015), Election Notebook: The Inside Story of the
Battle over Britain's Future and my Personal Battle to Report it.
Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0593075180
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* ^ Robinson, Nick (6 May 2006). "Naked truth". BBC. Retrieved 14
* ^ Robinson, Nick (25 February 2008). "Theories on the Speaker".
BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
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* ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03phwk5
BBC – The Truth
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BBC – The Prime
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* ^ https://www.britainfirst.org/statement-of-principles-2/
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