Birmingham Press Club president Bob Warman conducted a Q & A session with Nick Robinson after the BBC Radio 4 Today presenter had delighted guests with an entertaining speech at the Journalists’ Charity annual lunch.
The event, held at The Holte Suite, Aston Villa FC, raised a record £18,000 for the charity (www.journalistscharity.org.uk), which every year distributes grants and other forms of financial assistance to those in urgent need. In 2015, it paid out £330,000 in more than 140 cases, with beneficiaries’ ages ranging from those in their 20s to those in their 90s.
Nick revealed that some of his earliest broadcasting experience was gained at Birmingham’s legendary Pebble Mill studios. Guests were amused by Nick’s recollection of vox-popping a ‘lady of the night’ on her doorstep in the city’s red light district.
He said: “I explained who I was and from the BBC and she said ‘that’s enough of the patter love - just come upstairs’.”
Nick moved deftly from such early experiences to the global stage and one of the illuminating insights was into the dislike former US President George W Bush displayed for the broadcaster. A television clip shown to the audience showed how Nick’s questioning at one press conference during the Iraq war clearly rattled the then President.
Nick explained how there was an uneasy relationship from that point onwards, culminating in a key event at Camp David.
“I was stood in the blistering heat and getting hotter and hotter and looking extremely red and flustered,” he said. “As George W Bush walked past me he said ‘you need to put some sunblock on that bald head of yours’.
“He continued walking away towards the Marine One presidential helicopter and I shouted ‘I didn’t know you cared Mr President.
“I didn’t even think he would have heard me over the helicopter noise but he did and turned round and said - ‘I don’t’!”
Pertemps Network was headline sponsor of the event, which was attended by more than 250 guests.
Photographs: Ian Tennant