Tuesday 22nd March 2022
Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath, York Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 1NG
Justin Webb is the longest serving presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme ‘Today.’ For the best part of four decades, he has been a voice on the airwaves or a presence on our TV screens.
He joined the BBC in 1984 as a trainee, and has reported from around the world, as a war correspondent in the Gulf and in Bosnia, on the break-up of the former Soviet Union and the first democratic elections in South Africa. He was Europe Correspondent when the Euro was introduced, and for eight years he was the chief correspondent in Washington DC. Among his awards is Political Journalist of the Year, which he won for his coverage of the Obama presidential campaign.
He joins us in the bookshop to discuss his brilliant memoir The Gift of a Radio.
Justin Webb’s childhood was far from ordinary.
Between his mother’s un-diagnosed psychological problems, and his step-father’s untreated ones, life at home was dysfunctional at best. But with gun-wielding school masters and sub-standard living conditions, Quaker boarding school wasn’t much better.
And the backdrop to this coming of age story? Britain in the 1970s. Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and Free. Strikes, inflation and IRA bombings. A time in which attitudes towards mental illness, parenting and masculinity were worlds apart from the attitudes we have today. A society that believed itself to be close to the edge of breakdown.
Candid, unsparing and darkly funny, Justin Webb’s memoir is a portrait of personal and national dysfunction. So was it the brutal experiences of his upbringing, or an innate ambition and drive that somehow survived them, that shaped the urbane and successful radio presenter we know and love now?