John Sergeant (journalist)
John Sergeant is a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 television and radio journalist and broadcaster.


The son of a missionary who was also a distinguished linguist, Sergeant is of Russian
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 Jewish origin on his mother's side. Sergeant's early life meant that he followed his father's work, and was raised in locations including Jerusalem and Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

. Sergeant was educated at Great Tew
Great Tew
Great Tew is a village and civil parish in the Cotswold Hills in Oxfordshire, England, about northeast of Chipping Norton and southwest of Banbury.-Archaeology:...

 Primary School, briefly at the independent Bloxham School
Bloxham School
Bloxham School is an independent co-educational day and boarding school located in the village of Bloxham, three miles from the town of Banbury in Oxfordshire, England. It was founded in 1860 by the Reverend Philip Reginald Egerton and has since become a member of the Woodard Corporation...

 near Banbury
Banbury is a market town and civil parish on the River Cherwell in the Cherwell District of Oxfordshire. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, south of Coventry and north northwest of the county town of Oxford...

, in Oxfordshire, and then at the independent Millfield School in Street, Somerset
Street, Somerset
Street is a small village and civil parish in the county of Somerset, England. It is situated on a dry spot in the Somerset Levels, at the end of the Polden Hills, south-west of Glastonbury. The 2001 census records the village as having a population of 11,066...


He graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Sergeant made a name for himself in student comedy revues, with the result that, after graduation, he starred with Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett is a British playwright, screenwriter, actor and author. Born in Leeds, he attended Oxford University where he studied history and performed with The Oxford Revue. He stayed to teach and research mediaeval history at the university for several years...

 in a series of sketch shows on the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 entitled On the Margin
On the Margin
On the Margin was a British satirical comedy sketch show written and performed by Alan Bennett and a regular cast including John Sergeant, Virginia Stride, Madge Hindle and Yvonne Gilan. Guest performers included John Fortune and Jonathan Miller...

 and wrote comedy scripts. He then trained as a journalist at Darlington College
Darlington College
Darlington College is a further education college in Darlington, County Durham, England. The college campus is located at Central Park, Haughton Road. With support from Darlington Borough Council and Tees Valley Regeneration the college was built by "Shepard Construction", starting in 2004...

 while reporting for the Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
The Liverpool Echo is a newspaper published by Trinity Mirror in Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It is published Monday to Saturday, and is Liverpool's evening newspaper while its sister paper, the Liverpool Daily Post, is the morning paper...


Journalism career

Sergeant started his journalistim career as a correspondent for the Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
The Liverpool Echo is a newspaper published by Trinity Mirror in Liverpool, Merseyside, England. It is published Monday to Saturday, and is Liverpool's evening newspaper while its sister paper, the Liverpool Daily Post, is the morning paper...

 where he worked for around three years before joining the BBC as a radio reporter in 1970. He was tasked to join the international desk, covering stories in over 25 countries. He then worked as a war reporter in Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and reported the death of the first British soldier during The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. He later covered the opening sessions of the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 and became a Political Correspondent in 1981. He then worked on a documentary called "The Europe We Joined" and has presented BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 programmes Today
Today programme
Today is BBC Radio 4's long-running early morning news and current affairs programme, now broadcast from 6.00 am to 9.00 am Monday to Friday, and 7.00 am to 9.00 am on Saturdays. It is also the most popular programme on Radio 4 and one of the BBC's most popular programmes across its radio networks...

 and The World At One
The World At One
The World at One, or WATO for short, is BBC Radio 4's long-running lunchtime news and current affairs programme, which is broadcast from 1pm to 1:30pm from Monday to Friday. The programme describes itself as "Britain's leading political programme. With a reputation for rigorous and original...

. Having progressed through newspaper, radio and television journalism, he became the BBC's Chief Political Correspondent from 1992 until 2000.

In 2000 he joined ITN as Political Editor, replacing the retiring Michael Brunson
Michael Brunson
Michael Brunson OBE is a British political journalist.He was educated at Bedford School, a boys' independent school in Bedford, Bedfordshire, and read Theology at Queen's College, Oxford University. Michael Brunson began his broadcasting career at the BBC and later served as Washington...

. Sergeant retired himself in 2002 and was replaced at ITN by Nick Robinson
Nick Robinson
Nicholas Anthony "Nick" Robinson is a British journalist and political editor for the BBC. Robinson was interested in politics from a young age, and went on to study a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics degree at Oxford University, where he was also President of the Oxford University Conservative...


Journalist highlights

In 1987, in Moscow following Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

, he made a comment implying that she had already started campaigning for the General Election
General election
In a parliamentary political system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.The term...

 in June 1987, despite not having officially declared the contest. "I am serving my country", Thatcher replied.

One of his most memorable moments was when he waited outside the British embassy in Paris for Thatcher, in the hope of hearing her reaction to the first ballot in the party leadership contest of 1990
Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 1990
The 1990 Conservative Party leadership election in the United Kingdom took place in November 1990 following the decision of former Defence and Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine to stand against the incumbent Conservative leader and Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.Thatcher failed to win...

, only to be pushed aside by her press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham
Bernard Ingham
Sir Bernard Ingham is a journalist and former civil servant who is best known as Margaret Thatcher's Chief Press Secretary while she was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Today Ingham lectures in Public Relations at Middlesex University in London...

, when Thatcher emerged from the building. For this broadcast, Sergeant won the British Press Guild award for the most memorable broadcast of the year, beating Paul Gascoigne
Paul Gascoigne
Paul John Gascoigne , commonly referred to as Gazza, is a retired English professional footballer.Playing in the position of midfield, Gascoigne's career included spells at Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton and Gansu Tianma, where he scored at least a goal...

 who had been nominated for bursting into tears during the 1990 Football World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 Semi-Final against West Germany.

Another political scoop was gained when he was granted the only interview with the then Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, after he had been forced to resign following his "moment of madness" on Clapham Common
Clapham Common
Clapham Common is an 89 hectare triangular area of grassland situated in south London, England. It was historically common land for the parishes of Battersea and Clapham, but was converted to parkland under the terms of the Metropolitan Commons Act 1878.43 hectares of the common are within the...

 in October 1998.

After journalism

After retirement from political journalism, Sergeant's appearances on programmes such as Have I Got News For You
Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You is a British television panel show produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC. It is based loosely on the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz, and has been broadcast since 1990, currently the BBC's longest-ever running television panel show...

 have made him a sought-after participant in television comedy and satire shows.

He is currently a reporter for The One Show
The One Show
The One Show is a topical magazine-style daily television programme broadcast live on BBC One and BBC One HD, hosted by Alex Jones and Matt Baker. Chris Evans joins Jones to present the programme on Friday...

. When the hosts Adrian Chiles
Adrian Chiles
Adrian Chiles is a British television and radio presenter, currently working for ITV Sport presenting football coverage....

 and Christine Bleakley
Christine Bleakley
Christine Louise Bleakley is a television presenter from Northern Ireland. She joined Daybreak on ITV as co-presenter with Adrian Chiles in September 2010...

 were on holiday John hosted the show alongside Myleene Klass
Myleene Klass
Myleene Angela Quinn is an English singer, pianist, media personality and occasional model. She was formerly a member of the defunct British pop band Hear'Say.-Early life:...

 for a week starting on 24 August 2009. Sergeant has been a guest in Countdown
Countdown (game show)
Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It is produced by ITV Studios and broadcast on Channel 4. It is presented by Jeff Stelling, assisted by Rachel Riley, with regular lexicographer Susie Dent. It was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and over sixty-five...

s Dictionary Corner with Susie Dent
Susie Dent
Susie Dent is an English lexicographer, well known as the resident dictionary expert and adjudicator on Channel 4’s long-running game show Countdown. As of January 2009, she is the longest-serving member of the current on-screen team, having first appeared on the show in 1992.Dent was educated at...

. In February 2009 he appeared on QI
QI is a British comedy panel game television quiz show created and co-produced by John Lloyd, hosted by Stephen Fry, and featuring permanent panellist Alan Davies. Most of the questions are extremely obscure, making it unlikely that the correct answer will be given...

. He is also a very popular after-dinner speaker and spoke to the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 Junior Chamber of Commerce on 8 July 2011.

Strictly Come Dancing

Sergeant competed with partner Kristina Rihanoff
Kristina Rihanoff
Kristina Rihanoff is a world finalist professional ballroom dancer, instructor and author.-Achievements:...

 in the sixth
Strictly Come Dancing (Series 6)
The sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing began on BBC One on 20 September 2008, with Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly returning as presenters, and Craig Revel Horwood, Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli returning as judges....

 series of Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing is a British television show, featuring celebrities with professional dance partners competing in Ballroom and Latin dances. The title of the show suggests a continuation of the long-running series Come Dancing, with an allusion to the film Strictly Ballroom...

 which began on 20 September 2008. Although he repeatedly finished bottom of the score board after the judges' votes, the public consistently voted to keep him in the competition, prompting criticism of the viewers' voting by the judges and some dancers. He left the show in Week 10 following a farewell dance saying ""The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far."

He is well-known for a repeated clip showing him pulling Rihanoff across the floor as part of a dance routine.

After Strictly

After Strictly Come Dancing Sergeant saw a boost in his career. He has since subsequently been engaged by Mentorn TV to produce a number of documentaries that include a three-part series entitled John Sergeant's Tourist Trail in which he asked the question "why do tourists come to Britain?" He is currently filming a new two-part documentary for Mentorn TV where he explores Indian Railways
Rail transport in India
Rail transport is a commonly used mode of long-distance transportation in India. Almost all rail operations in India are handled by a state-owned organisation, Indian Railways, Ministry of Railways. The rail network traverses the length and breadth of the country, covering a total length of...

. Sergeant was also the host of Argumental
Argumental is a British improvised comedy panel game in which two teams captained by Robert Webb and Seann Walsh debate and argue on various topics. Sean Lock hosts the game. It is made by independent production company Tiger Aspect Productions for Dave and made its debut on 27 October 2008...

, a comedy debating game on Dave. In 2011 Sergeant was the narrator for the ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 television series Grimefighters
Grimefighters is a television series in the UK on ITV which follows the life of people with particularly dirty jobs: like working in a sewer, being a binman and hygiene inspectors....


British Indian Railway - On tracks of Empire

Sergeant presented this BBC Series on the humble beginnings of the British Indian Railway and its legacy. He follows the path of the early Railway Engineers and also presents the use of the Railways in the extensive growth of India now.

Personal life

Sergeant married Mary Smithies on 4 January 1969; the couple have two children: Will Sergeant (a TV producer/director/writer) and Mike Sergeant (a BBC news reporter). He lives in Ealing
Ealing is a suburban area of west London, England and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Ealing. It is located west of Charing Cross and around from the City of London. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. It was historically a rural village...

, West London.

He was president of the Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

 Society in 2003. Interviewed by Sophie Lam in The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

 in June 2008 about his holiday memories, he stated: "I'm programmed not to be disappointed by holidays."

External links

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