Reporting from Westminster, 2016
PjrNews / Alamy Stock Photo
BBC news anchor Clive Myrie, currently reporting from Kyiv on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has told The Big Issue of his passion for reporting from the frontline in a new interview.
“You see the very best of human nature and the very worst of human nature in a conflict situation,” Myrie tells The Big Issue’s Jane Graham.
“Those are the best, most fascinating moments, when you’re going to get the most interesting human stories.”
Myrie reported from more than 80 countries during a long spell as a BBC foreign correspondent. This included spells in Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles, as well as reporting from Iraq during the 2003 war.
“There is an adrenaline rush in being a journalist on the frontline. Something that makes you want to go back for more,” says Myrie in a wide-ranging Letter To My Younger Self interview.
“Although for me I don’t think it’s the sense that I’m potentially in danger. It’s just about telling stories from incredible places.”
This week, Myrie was back in his flak jacket as he presented the news from Ukraine as air raid sirens blared out across Kyiv.
“I’ve been in some dangerous situations, but I don’t think I ever thought about the danger,” says Myrie.
“I just thought, I want to be in a warzone and experience and tell the story of conflict in a particular place.
“It’s interesting talking to soldiers, and to those who do go into battle. You never ever think, really consciously, that you’re going to be the one who gets shot or blown up or killed. Something has to present itself to you that makes it clear that you could be the one.
“So for instance, when I was embedded with the Royal Marines going into Iraq in 2003, we all had to write goodbye letters to our families, a sort of last will and testament I suppose. Just in case we didn’t come back. That process, saying goodbye in letter form, does remind you that you might not get back.”
Since 2009, Myrie has worked primarily as a newsreader in the BBC’s London studio. And, more recently, he has taken over as host of the BBC’s flagship quiz show, Mastermind.
It was a tough decision, however, to step back from frontline reporting.
“I didn’t want to come off the road as a reporter and sit in a studio and read out loud,” he admits.
“It was the BBC that said, we think it would be a good thing for you to do. And I was like, ‘hmmm, I don’t know about that’. In the end I agreed.
“I thought I would miss jumping onto planes every week and I think maybe at the beginning I did. But I don’t miss it now at all. I think after more than 30 years of being a foreign correspondent I’ve finally got it out of my system.”
Read the full interview in The Big Issue magazine on sale from Monday 28 February.