Tim Sebastian

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This article is about the English television journalist. For the German footballer, see Tim Sebastian (footballer).

Tim Sebastian (born 13 March 1952, London, England) is a television journalist and novelist. He is the moderator of Conflict Zone and the New Arab Debates,[1] broadcast on Deutsche Welle. He used to host the Doha Debates,[2] and the Outsider Debates,[3] and was the first presenter of BBC's HARDtalk.[4]

He won the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Richard Dimbleby award in 1981[5] and Britain's prestigious Royal Television Society Interviewer of the Year award in 2001 for the second time in a row.[6]


Sebastian was educated at Westminster School, a fee-paying independent school in Central London. He holds a BA Honours degree in Modern Languages from New College, Oxford University, and speaks both German and Russian.[6] He has a Diploma in Journalism Studies from Cardiff University, graduating in 1974.


Sebastian began his journalism career at Reuters in 1974, moving to the BBC as foreign correspondent in Warsaw in 1979.[7] He became BBC's Europe correspondent in 1982, for Moscow in 1984 (until his expulsion from the USSR in 1985[7]) and then for Washington from 1986 to 1989.[8]

Sebastian has worked for the Mail on Sunday, and has contributed to the Sunday Times.


Memorable interviews[9] with world leaders have included US Presidents Bill Clinton[10] and Jimmy Carter[11], Archbishop Desmond Tutu[12], Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and the last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev[13].

Debate moderator[edit]

Sebastian is a frequent moderator of major conferences, seminars and forums across the globe. Currently[when?], Sebastian is the Chairman of "The Doha Debates", a Qatar Foundation programme that is broadcast monthly on BBC World News where it is the highest rated weekend programme. The Debates were founded by Sebastian in 2004 and their fifth series begins in September 2008.

Following the political and social unrest in Egypt and Tunisia in early 2011, Tim Sebastian founded the New Arab Debates,[14] which are held in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan and broadcast on Deutsche Welle English [15] as well as regional television channels. The debates are now[when?] in their second season, and are also held in Arabic and hosted by Egyptian TV Presenter Mai El Sherbiny.


In 1982 Sebastian was awarded the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Richard Dimbleby Award and was named Television Journalist of the Year by the Royal Television Society. Additionally he has twice won the Royal Television Society's Interviewer of the Year Award for his HARDtalk interviews.


  • The Spy in Question (1988)
  • Spy Shadow (1989)
  • Saviour's Gate (1991)
  • Exit Berlin (1992)
  • The Memory Church (1993)
  • Last Rights (1993)
  • Special Relations (1994)
  • War Dance (1995)
  • Ultra (1997)
  • Nice Promises: Tim Sebastian in Poland (1985)
  • I Spy in Russia (1986)


  1. ^ Medien, Ahmed (21 October 2011), Tim Sebastian Launches "New Arab Debates", Tunisia Live, retrieved 2011-11-20 
  2. ^ Mendenhall, Preston (22 February 2005), Another revolution in the land of Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, retrieved 2011-09-14 
  3. ^ Mendenhall, Preston (25 August 2012), The Outsider, MSNBC 
  4. ^ "A look ahead...". BBC. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  5. ^ "Television Nominations 1981". BAFTA. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  6. ^ a b "The man with all the questions". BBC. 4 July 2002. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  7. ^ a b Shivdasani, Menka (17 April 2000), "Behind those interviews", Business Line (Madras), retrieved 2011-09-14 
  8. ^ Church, Michael (31 December 2002), "Tim Sebastian: 'It's not a social event'", The Independent (London), retrieved 2011-09-14 
  9. ^ Memorable interviews
  10. ^ Interview Bill Clinton
  11. ^ Interview Jimmy Carter
  12. ^ Interview Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  13. ^ Interview Mikhail Gorbachev
  14. ^ http://www.newarabdebates.com/en/about-us/a-message-from-tim-sebastian/
  15. ^ http://www.dw.de/program/the-new-arab-debates/s-30470-9798

External links[edit]