James Robbins

James Robbins

James has been a BBC foreign correspondent for most of his working life.

In 2017 he celebrated 40 years at the BBC since joining as a graduate trainee.

He has been the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent covering global affairs for the last 20 years.

After his two-year training in the late 1970s, James lived for four years in Northern Ireland reporting the Troubles including the Hunger Strikes of 1981 at the Maze Prison, taking time out to marry that year.

This was followed by many years on the road: sometimes flying in and out to cover breaking stories… sometimes living abroad as a resident correspondent… so he spent six years in South Africa at the height of the struggle against apartheid in the late 1980s, and was there long enough to see Nelson Mandela released from prison, and to be one of the handful of journalists who were the first to interview him after 27 years in jail.

After South Africa, he was based in Brussels as Europe Correspondent for six years immediately after the Berlin Wall came down, the Cold War ended, and when the relationship between John Major’s  Britain’s and the newly proclaimed European Union really started to sour…

James led the BBC’s coverage of  911 and its aftermath, as well as the path Tony Blair took Britain down to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He’s reported from many of the world’s difficult places, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and North Korea…as well as making frequent trips to cover crises at the United Nations in New York. He has covered most of the Commonwealth Summits since Harare 1991 and has reported from a majority of Commonwealth countries.

He was in St Peter’s Square in Rome to report the election of Pope Francis in 2013, and in Vienna in July 2015 for the agreement between Iran and the major powers over its nuclear programme.

James is an occasional presenter of  BBC Radio 4 programmes, including The World at One, The World This Weekend and The World Tonight—basically any programme with the word “world” in its title!

Now he says he’s trying to travel a bit less, and think a bit more about what all those experiences might have taught him…

In his spare time, James likes to walk, look out of train windows, and listen to opera, not necessarily all at the same time.



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