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, broadcast on Deutsche Welle. He previously worked for the BBC, where he hosted The Doha Debates and was the first presenter of HARDtalk. He also presented Bloomberg TV's The Outsider, an India-focused debating programme.
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. 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. He became BBC's Europe correspondent in 1982, for Moscow in 1984 (until his expulsion from the USSR in 1985) and then for Washington from 1986 to 1989.
Memorable Hard Talk interviews with world leaders included US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and the last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. He now hosts Conflict Zone, a one-on-one interview show on Deutsche Welle's international English-language channel.
Sebastian is a frequent moderator of major conferences, seminars and forums across the globe.
He was the Chairman of The Doha Debates, a Qatar Foundation programme that was broadcast monthly on BBC World News where it was the highest rated weekend programme. The Debates were founded by Sebastian in 2004 and their fifth series began in September 2008.
Following the political and social unrest in Egypt and Tunisia in early 2011, Tim Sebastian founded The New Arab Debates, which have been held in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan and were broadcast on Deutsche Welle English as well as regional television channels. The debates 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.
- Nice Promises: Tim Sebastian in Poland (1985)
- I Spy in Russia (1986)
- 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)
- Website Conflict Zone
- Medien, Ahmed (21 October 2011), Tim Sebastian Launches "New Arab Debates", Tunisia Live, retrieved 2011-11-20
- Mendenhall, Preston (22 February 2005), Another revolution in the land of Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, retrieved 2011-09-14
- "A look ahead...". BBC. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- Mendenhall, Preston (25 August 2012), The Outsider, MSNBC
- "The Outsider website". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- "Television Nominations 1981". BAFTA. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
- "The man with all the questions". BBC. 4 July 2002. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- Shivdasani, Menka (17 April 2000), "Behind Those Interviews", Business Line (Madras), retrieved 14 September 2011
- Church, Michael (31 December 2002), "Tim Sebastian: 'It's not a social event'", The Independent (London), retrieved 2011-09-14
- Memorable interviews
- Interview Bill Clinton
- Interview Jimmy Carter
- Interview Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- "Mr Lee Kuan Yew's interview with Mr Tim Sebastian on BBC HARDTalk". YouTube. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Interview Mikhail Gorbachev
- "The Doha Debates" website
- Official biography of Tim Sebastian
- Tim Sebastian at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview in the Gulf Times: 'Sebastian is looking beyond the stereotypes'
- Interview in Oryx Magazine: 'Courting Controversy'
- Tim Sebastian and the Doha Debates
- "The New Arab Debates" website