Gavin Esler

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Gavin Esler
Born (1953-02-27) 27 February 1953 (age 61)
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Nationality Scottish
Education University of Kent,
University of Leeds
Occupation Journalist, presenter
Employer BBC
Notable credit(s) Newsnight
BBC News at Five
Partner(s) Anna Phoebe

Gavin Esler (born 27 February 1953) is a Scottish author and BBC television presenter. Esler was a main presenter on BBC Two's flagship political analysis programme, Newsnight, from January 2003 until January 2014.[1] He is currently the deputy presenter of BBC News at Five and a relief presenter on the BBC News Channel. Esler is also the main presenter of the weekly news discussion programme Dateline London and its Scottish equivalent Dateline Scotland.

Education[edit]

Born in Glasgow, Esler was educated at the independent George Heriot's School, Edinburgh. He gained a BA in English and American literature from the University of Kent[2] and a MA in Anglo-Irish literature with distinction from the University of Leeds.[3] He entered journalism via the Belfast Telegraph and has two honorary degrees, including a Doctorate in Civil Law from the University of Kent at Canterbury.

Career[edit]

Esler joined the BBC in 1977 as a Northern Ireland reporter, and extended his role after joining Newsnight in 1982. Esler was then appointed Washington correspondent and later chief North America correspondent for the BBC, in charge of shaping coverage across the whole continent for the corporation, and covering both the earlier George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations. His report on the military build up in the Aleutian islands as part of the Reagan administration's New Maritime Strategy earned him a Royal Television Society award.

Esler's reporting extended further across the globe, and he has reported for news and documentary programmes across Europe, Russia, China and North and South America. In 2007 he won a Sony Gold Award for his radio documentary report on Sami al-Hajj, one of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Following the broadcast al Hajj was released from American custody.

Esler combined reporting with presenting from the mid-1980s on BBC One's regional news programme for London and the South East of England - Newsroom South East. He then joined the BBC News channel (then known as "BBC News 24") from its outset, presenting its primetime slot with Sian Williams for several years.

In January 2003 he joined Newsnight, replacing Jeremy Vine, who had left to take over from Sir Jimmy Young on Radio 2. During his career Esler has interviewed heads of state including Bill Clinton, Jacques Chirac and King Abdullah of Jordan. He has also interviewed a wide range of cultural figures including Dolly Parton, Doris Lessing, Penélope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, V. S. Naipaul, Roger Waters, Vikram Seth and Seamus Heaney. Esler left Newsnight in January 2014, and was replaced by Laura Kuenssberg.

Esler also presents Dateline London on BBC News and BBC World News most Sunday mornings at 11am. He also the Deputy presenter of the BBC News at Five on the BBC News channel on Fridays and when Huw Edwards is away. Esler has also hosted Radio 4 factual series, Four Corners along with fellow Scottish broadcaster, Anne MacKenzie.

Esler is the author of five novels - Loyalties, Deep Blue, The Blood Brother, A Scandalous Man, and Power Play. A Scandalous Man was described by fellow author Bernard Cornwell as "a compelling book, its political sophistication made luminous with wisdom sympathy and story telling." Other reviewers were equally complimentary. His fifth novel, Powerplay, was published by HarperCollins in August 2009. Esler has also written a book on American discontent, The United States of Anger, published in October 1997 (Penguin). For several years he wrote regular columns for The Scotsman, The Independent and other publications.

Esler was appointed as the sixth Chancellor [4] of The University of Kent on the 24th of January 2014

George Galloway and Hillary Clinton[edit]

In 2005 Esler interviewed George Galloway on Newsnight regarding the London bombings. The BBC was reported to have received hundreds of complaints about Esler's interview alleging Esler's questioning was "rude and aggressive". Peter Barron, editor of Newsnight, defended Esler's questioning of Galloway's tactics: "...I accept entirely that while Mr Galloway's views run counter to those expressed by mainstream politicians they are views that may be held quite widely across the country and perhaps particularly in parts of London such as Mr Galloway's constituency. The thrust of Gavin's questioning was to ask if it was wise to express these provocative views - effectively "I told you so" - at a time when many politicians and Muslim leaders had been appealing for calm. I believe that was a fair and appropriate line of questioning."[5]

In 2007 a BBC publication investigating into impartiality in the organisation criticised an unnamed BBC news presenter for writing an article in the Daily Mirror newspaper entitled "Why the World Needs Hillary", stating they had been "unwise" for doing so The article appeared to endorse Hillary Clinton to be the next US President and it soon emerged that the newsreader in question was Esler. The BBC report noted that the article "could make it hard for that presenter to conduct American political interviews".[6][7][8]

Personal life[edit]

In 2007 Esler separated from his wife of 28 years, Patricia Warner, who lives in the family home with their two children. In late 2008 Esler began living in a townhouse in west London, with rock violinist Anna Phoebe.[9][10] Phoebe and Esler have a daughter, born in 2011.[11]

His hobbies include camping, hiking and skiing. He is a fan of progressive rock and presented the Progressive Music Awards in September 2012. He has cited King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Colosseum and Pink Floyd as favourites.[12] Esler hosted the awards again in 2013.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Worcester
Chancellor of the University of Kent
2014–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent