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Nicholas Newton Henshall Witchell (born 23 September 1953) is a Englishmarker journalist. He is the current royal and diplomatic correspondent for BBC News. Previously he was a newscaster.

Early life and career

Witchell was born in Shropshiremarker and educated at Epsom Collegemarker, a British Independent school in Surreymarker, and later studied law at the University of Leedsmarker, where he edited the student newspaper. In 1974 Terence Dalton Limited published Witchell's book, "The Loch Ness Story". The book provides a history of the alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster and includes a chapter entitled "The "Monster" on Land". Witchell's belief in the existence of the creature is described as "quite unshakeable". He has worked for the BBC since 1976. He reported from Northern Irelandmarker and the Falkland Islandsmarker during the 1982 Falklands War.

Witchell, along with Sue Lawley, then became the first newsreader of the BBC Six O'Clock News when that programme was launched in 1984, now called the BBC News at Six. In 1988, the Six O'Clock News studio was famously invaded during a live broadcast by a female group protesting against Britainmarker's Section 28 (a law against the promotion of homosexuality in schools). Witchell famously grappled with the protestors and is said to have sat on one woman, provoking the memorable frontpage headline in the Daily Mirror, "Beeb man sits on lesbian".

He was the first reporter to give the news of both Lockerbie disaster, Zeebrugge ferry disastermarker and the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

The following year he moved from the evening to breakfast news slot, a role he filled for five years. During the 1991 Gulf War he was a volunteer presenter on the BBC Radio 4 News FM service. In 1994 he left the studio to become a reporter for factual affairs programme Panorama.

Royal Correspondent

In 1998, Witchell became a royal and diplomatic correspondent. In 2002, his obituary of Princess Margaret, recorded some time before her death but screened immediately after the announcement of her death, provoked controversy, as it mentioned her lovers and love of whisky.

Witchell provoked royal ire again in 2005. Whilst at a press conference at the Swissmarker ski resort of Klostersmarker, Witchell asked Prince Charles how he and his sons were feeling about his forthcoming marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles. After a response from his son William, Charles said under his breath, and referring to Witchell, "These bloody people. I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is." Witchell himself was then in the headlines. The BBC defended their reporter saying "He is one of our finest. His question was perfectly reasonable under the circumstances." The outburst even brought praise from rival broadcasters, Sky's Geoff Meade praised Witchell, describing him as one of the most respected and least irreverent of all the media present. A BBC Radio Five Live phone poll on the day did, however, indicate greater support for the Prince than for Witchell, with approximately 1000 out of 1700 votes going to 'Charles' over 'Nick'.

Witchell is also the author of a book about his failed search to find the Loch Ness monster.Witchell is a Governor of Queen Elizabeth's Foundation, an Officer of the Order of St John and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Societymarker. He lives in Central Londonmarker with long term partner Maria Staples and two children.

Later career

Witchell appeared as himself in the Doctor Who Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned" on Christmas Day 2007.


  1. Tim Luckhurst "Nicholas Witchell: More touchy than feely", The Independent, 28 August 2005. Retrieved on 30 June 2008.
  2. Sound Matters - Five Live - the War of Broadcasting House - a morality story

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