Clive Myrie shares emotional toll of broadcasting

Broadcaster Clive Myrie has shared the emotional impact of his work and prominence as a public figure during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

“It feels as if the pain of others, the regrets, the longing, the sadness affects me more,” Myrie explained, adding: “I haven’t got used to it, that’s the thing”.

The award-winning news anchor also spoke about the impact the Windrush scandal has had on him and his family.

Myrie, who is co-presenting the BBC’s election night coverage with Laura Kuenssberg, said he feels an adrenaline buzz in what he describes as “being on the frontline of what is means to be British”.

He hopes the election coverage will cater to audiences beyond “political geeks”. “I want people to be able to tune in, and get a sense of where this country is going,” Myrie added.

Listen to the full episode on BBC Sounds.

Asked about his experiences as a foreign correspondent in war zones, Myrie said “you tend to find the best of humanity, and the worst of humanity”. The difference in narratives made telling stories from conflict zones “fascinating”, he added.

Referring to his many broadcasting roles – as the host of the BBC’s Mastermind and travel programmes about Italy and the Caribbean – the 59-year-old said he believes the more people know about him, the more likely audiences are to trust him and the BBC.

Myrie spoke to host Lauren Laverne about the importance of role models like Sir Trevor McDonald, who inspired him to become a journalist. But he emphasised that he wanted to be a journalist “who just happens to be black” – rather than a journalist who solely covers stories about black communities.

“I didn’t want my colour to define who I am, and the BBC understood that.”

Clive Myrie and Laura Kuenssberg pictured alongside BBC election brandingClive Myrie and Laura Kuenssberg pictured alongside BBC election branding

Clive Myrie will anchor the BBC’s election coverage in July alongside Laura Kuenssberg [BBC]

He is one of seven children to Jamaican parents. Born in Farnworth, near Bolton, Myrie said his family’s front room held strong memories of Jamaica and the Caribbean, where his parents and older siblings were born.

Asked about the impact of the Windrush Scandal on his own family, Myrie shared an emotional account.

The scandal emerged in 2018, when hundreds of Commonwealth citizens part of the Windrush generation had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights.

British citizens, mainly from the Caribbean, were denied access to healthcare and benefits and threatened with deportation despite having the right to live in the UK.

His brother Lionel “now has the right to remain here”, he said. But in an emotional exchange, Myrie said his other brother, Peter, died from prostate cancer before the situation was sorted.

“There are still people who haven’t received their compensation. It’s just very, very sad.”

Myrie anchors the BBC’s News at Six and Ten news programmes, presenting to millions of people across the UK daily.

But despite the glamour of holding such a prominent role, the broadcaster also spoke about the darker side of being such a prominent public figure. He told Desert Island Discs that he has received death threats, and “cards in the post with gorillas on”.

“One chap issued death threats, and he was tracked down and prosecuted, and his death threats involved talking about the kind of bullet that he’d use in the gun to kill me and this kind of stuff,” Myrie said.

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