Television

Alan Johnston to host BBC's 'From Our Own Correspondent'

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MUMBAI: Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter who was kidnapped in Gaza last year, is the new presenter of From Our Own Correspondent (FOOC) for BBC World Service.

During his career, Alan has written a series of dispatches for the long-running BBC Radio programme from the Middle East as well as Central Asia and Afghanistan.

In one of the pieces that he wrote in Gaza before he was kidnapped, he admitted that the possibility of being taken hostage terrified him.

During the 114 days he was kept prisoner by the Army of Islam, he spent hours working out how, once free, he would tell his story on FOOC. In October last year, an entire edition of the programme, some 27 minutes, was given over to Alan's story.

Commenting on his new job, he said, "I hope that the show might benefit from having a regular presenter, and one who has both contributed to it and been a fan for many years. The structure of the programme will stay the same however – the extraordinarily successful FOOC formula would be very hard to improve."

In a world where the correspondents' stories must often be condensed into a minute or less, or perhaps confined to a single answer to a programme presenter's question, FOOC gives them an opportunity to say a little more – to provide some of the context to the stories they are covering, to describe some of the characters involved and some of the sights they see as they watch events unfold.

The show's producer Tony Grant said, "I am delighted to be working more closely with Alan. In the past, most of our conversations were down crackly phone lines. He may have done loads of pieces for our programme, but I never got to meet him until after his kidnap ordeal. It will be great now to work side by side with him; he'll make a really terrific presenter."

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