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O'Connell in September 2010
11 March 1966 |
Guildford, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
University of Aberdeen
|Notable credit(s)||Broadcasting House|
He began his broadcasting career in 1989 on the BBC's local radio trainee scheme, leading to five years spent as a BBC local radio reporter in Devon, Essex and Cleveland. He then joined BBC Radio Five Live at its launch in 1994, before moving to the US to present BBC World Service's The World programme.
O'Connell has also presented and reported for a range of other radio stations across the world, including in Australia and Canada.
In 1997, O'Connell became BBC News' North America Business Correspondent and Wall Street anchor, based in New York City. He appeared regularly on BBC World, BBC News 24 and BBC One news bulletins reporting on and presenting business news. He was the main US-based anchor for the BBC's World Business Report programme, on BBC World and BBC News 24, on which he became well known for his laidback but incisive style, and deadpan delivery.
O'Connell was in New York City at the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and was due to attend a meeting inside the World Trade Center on that day. He reported from the scene of the attacks just hours later, interviewing survivors in the aftermath, and anchored the BBC's coverage from the scene that evening.
He stayed in New York for a further two years, but left the US, and the BBC, in 2003. He then did a variety of freelance work, including a wide range of work for the BBC.
He fronted a wide range of news and entertainment shows on the corporation's youth-orientated digital channel BBC Three. He presented Celebdaq, a show based around a celebrity stock exchange, allowing O'Connell to mix his vast business knowledge with his interest in showbusiness. He also worked on Liquid News (replacing the late Christopher Price as its main presenter), presented the one-off Flashmob – The Opera and was a main anchor on the offbeat current affairs show BBC Three News.
O'Connell was one of the main presenters on the daily BBC Two business news programme Working Lunch and anchored the show every Friday and occasionally at other times, presenting alongside Adam Shaw or Nik Wood. He joined the programme in 2003 and produced a number of special reports alongside his presentation duties. He left the programme on 26 September 2008, ahead of a relaunch with new presenters. He also appeared regularly on BBC Breakfast, presenting the programme's business news segments from the London Stock Exchange, filling in for regular business reporter Declan Curry.
Alongside these BBC commitments, O'Connell was also a regular presenter on London's LBC 97.3 radio station.
Current TV and radio work
O'Connell currently works on a wide range of BBC radio and TV programmes. He presents the weekly BBC Radio 4 irreverent Sunday morning news review strand, Broadcasting House. He joined the programme full-time in 2006, having previously covered for its former presenter Fi Glover while she was on maternity leave.
On a March 2013 episode of "Broadcasting House", O'Connell became so emotionally moved by journalist Emilie Blachère's poem, "A Love Letter from Emilie Blachère to Rémi Ochlik" that he had difficulty continuing the show and Radio 4's programme fell silent for around 12 seconds. Blachère read her poem as a remembrance on the one year anniversary of her partner's death. Photojournalist Rémi Ochlik died with veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin during the Syrian Civil War in 2012. The printed version of Blachère's poem also mentions fallen photojournalist Lucas Dolega, the first journalist to die during the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia.
As well as news programmes, O'Connell continues to dabble in both light and prime-time entertainment programmes. From 2004, he commentated on the Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals on BBC Three. He also presented various behind-the-scenes segments at the main final of the contest, shown on BBC Three. In 2010, O'Connell took part in a Eurovision edition of PopMaster on BBC Radio 2's Ken Bruce Show, losing to John Kennedy O'Connor. On 17 March 2011, he announced via Twitter that he had been replaced as a commentator for the Eurovision semi-finals as the BBC 'refreshed' their Eurovision team. He appeared in the 2011 documentary The Secret History of Eurovision. In 2017 he appeared alongside Ken Bruce on Radio Two's Eurovision Song Contest coverage of the final.
He also regularly chairs the First Wednesday discussions, hosted by the Frontline Club in west London, in which a panel of experts and key figures debate current geopolitical events happening around the world.
- Marsden, Sam (3 March 2013). "Choked BBC presenter falls silent after hearing love letter to photographer killed in Syria". The Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Sanderson, David (3 March 2013). "Radio 4's Paddy O'Connell lost for words after girlfriend reads love poem for Remi Ochlik". The Times (London). Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Blachère, Emilie (4 March 2013). "A love letter from Emilie Blachère to Rémi Ochlik". Le journal de la photographie. Retrieved 3 March 2013.