Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

It’s Never Too Late to Get into Television

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 11th March, 2019

JF and Berlaymont uildingWhen I first started out in journalism, as an 18-year-old cub reporter in the Vietnam War, I’d always assumed I would devote my career to the written word. Getting my first book contract shortly after joining Reuters News Agency in 1973 only reinforced that idea. So when I returned to London after eight years based in Brussels and was invited to apply to write current affairs scripts for BBC World Service radio that seemed a natural progression — and it was quite thrilling when I had a really topical story that then got translated by 20 or more different language services. But by the early 2000s I was being squeezed out of Bush House, partly because I was freelance (and therefore cheap to axe) but mainly because I had passed the dreaded age of 50. The BBC was ageist against men, as well as women, unless you were an institution like David Dimbleby or David Attenborough. I suspect it probably still is.

JF being interviewed full size.jpg So my career had hit the doldrums, only slightly alleviated by a whole series of invitations to lecture on cruise ships and to the vast network of women’s clubs that exists across Britain. But after I turned 60, something unexpected happened. I’d done a few TV interviews at the time of the 2003 Iraq War, but suddenly other offers to be a TV pundit on the Middle East appeared — from Middle Eastern TV stations, which value experience and white hair, unlike some UK domestic channels. So now I find most of my journalistic output is being a talking head on half a dozen or more mainly satellite channels, usually on the Middle East (never short of a topical story) but also these days often about Brexit. I can still review films, research and write books in the morning, but in the afternoons I spruce up to appear on screen. So you see, whatever anyone may tell you, it’s never too late to get into television.

One Response to “It’s Never Too Late to Get into Television”

  1. Helen Davies said

    …and based on that great article, as a motivational speaker also …fabulous!

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