John Sergeant

John Sergeant



Birth Name



Also Known As

John Sargeant
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John Sergeant is a British television and radio journalist and broadcaster. His father was a missionary who was also a renowned polyglot. John is of Russian origin on his mother's side. He was brought up in various places including Jerusalem and Oxford.


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • After John left the BBC to join ITV News, he was voted the Best Individual Television Contributor of the Year at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Awards in 1999.

    • John lives in Ealing, West London.

    • John married Mary Smithies on 4 January 1969, and the couple have two children: Will Sergeant (TV Producer/Director/Writer) and Mike Sergeant (BBC News Reporter).

    • John, with partner Kristina Rihanoff, was in the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008. Although he repeatedly finished bottom of the leader board after the judges' votes, the public consistently voted to keep him in the competition, prompting criticism of the viewers' voting by the judges and some dancers. He pulled out of the show on 19 November 2008, after saying that he had a real chance of winning and "even for me, that would be a joke too far".

    • John is a very popular after-dinner speaker.

    • After he retired from political journalism, John's appearances on programmes such as Have I Got News For You have made him a sought-after participant in television comedy and satire shows.

    • John was granted the only interview with the then Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, after he had been forced to resign following a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common in October, 1998.

    • One of John's most memorable moments was when he waited outside the British embassy in Paris for Margaret Thatcher, in the hope of hearing her reaction to the first ballot in the party leadership contest of 1990, only to be pushed aside by her press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, when she came out of the building. For this piece, John won the British Press Guild award for the most memorable broadcast of the year.

    • John retired as a political editor in 2002.

    • John became the BBC's Chief Political Correspondent from 1992 until 2000.

    • John became a became a Political Correspondent for the BBC in 1981.

    • He worked as a war reporter in Vietnam and Israel, and reported the death of the first British soldier during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

    • John joined the BBC as a radio reporter in 1970.

    • John trained as a journalist at Darlington College while reporting for the Liverpool Echo.

    • John achieved fame in student comedy revues, so that after graduation he starred with Alan Bennett in a series of sketch shows on the BBC entitled On the Margin and wrote comedy scripts.

    • John studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Magdalen College, Oxford.

    • John went to Great Tew Primary School, at the independent Bloxham School near Banbury, in Oxfordshire, for a short while and then at the independent Millfield School in Street, Somerset.

  • Quotes

    • John: (his most famous line as political editor when Mrs Thatcher was ousted as Prime Minister in 1990) Mrs Thatcher, could I ask you to comment?

    • John: I [also] did a series for The One Show on eccentrics. I visited a bloke whose whole flat had been turned into the Starship Enterprise. It was absolutely amazing. He was dressed as Mr Spock. Apart from that he was thoroughly normal.

    • John: Argumental takes you off in unexpected directions. When you ask them to throw the kitchen sink at an idea, our contestants come up with all sorts of surprising utensils.

    • John: In news you can't afford to make a slip. You have to be very disciplined and careful all the time. Now I don't have to be, and I'm loving it!

    • John: (when asked if he had thought up the idea for Argumental) I wish I had! If I'd come up with it, I wouldn't be here. I'd be abroad, luxuriating in my riches!

    • John: Strictly judges are as out of touch as their courtroom counterparts.

    • John: Anyone thinking that I can be leant on or bullied does not know me very well. I decide to choose my own battles. What I did not want was a bloody battle. Some people would think this is the horrible John Sergeant ruining a marvellous dance contest. The idea that we would do this week after week to annoy people was not what we wanted to do.