The BBC’s political whiz, Nick Robinson, will launch his series of Panorama election specials tonight with a face-to-face interview with Rishi Sunak

Nigel Farage clashes with Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4

Nick Robinson will tonight be giving Rishi Sunak his first broadcast grilling since the Prime Minister’s disastrous decision to leave the Normandy D-Day commemorations early.

In the first of a series of Panorama specials, Nick will be sitting down with the Downing Street incumbent to quiz him on the Tory party’s election campaign and why (oh why oh WHY) he wants to return to power.

And it comes just hours after Mr Sunak was questioned over rumours he’s set to quit as PM before Britain goes to the polls on July 4. Asked whether resigning had crossed his mind on Monday morning, the beleaguered premier told broadcasters during a visit to the Dog and Bacon pub in Horsham: “No, of course not. I’m energised about the vision that we’re putting forward for the country.

“This campaign is not even halfway through yet, and I’m finding enormous amount of support for the policies that we’re putting on the table.”

But just who is the BBC host he’ll be sitting opposite this evening?

Who is Nick Robinson?

Nick is a 60-year-old journalist and former Political Editor of both the BBC and ITV. He’s had a long and distinguished career in broadcast journalism, both in TV and radio, and currently presents Radio 4’s Today programme alongside Mishal Husain.

He was inspired to go into journalism by his Jewish grandfather, who narrowly escaped the Nazis, and says the BBC held a special importance for his family.

“I wanted to be a journalist when I saw my grandfather – a German Jew who fled the Nazis and later had to flee the Communists who’d taken over China where he found refuge – listen with reverence to the news from the BBC,” said Nick.

“I grew up with the giants of interviewing – men like Sir Robin Day and Brian Walden. One of my first jobs was as a researcher for David Dimbleby, and I later became his producer and editor before sitting alongside him on election night.

“When I started at the Today programme I sat alongside the man they all feared – John Humphrys. I now watch and learn from my Today colleague Mishal Husain, and Victoria Derbyshire on Newsnight, and Laura Kuenssberg and Kirsty Wark as well as so many others.”

Nick Robinson’s illness

In 2015, Nick was diagnosed with a rare form of slow-growing cancer when a bronchial carcinoid tumour was found in his lung. The tumour was removed during surgery, but the veteran broadcaster was left with a paralysed vocal cord, which robbed him of his voice.

Eight weeks after the op, Nick underwent intensive voice therapy to get him talking again ahead of the 2015 general election. The therapy, carried out with Dr Julia Selby, was successful, and Nick paid tribute to her in a speech to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. “She has not just been a speech therapist, she has been a friend, a counsellor…someone to cry with,” he told the audience.

“It has been an extraordinary year, and really is a story about the heroic work that many medical professionals do.” After Dr Selby helped him achieve another career goal – becoming a presenter on the Today programme – she continued to support him from afar.

“Even now, Julia will send me quite detailed comments while I’m on air, with my phone next to me. She’ll text me to say, ‘that’s sounding good’ or ‘try this’,” he added.

Is Nick Robinson married?

Nick is married to Pippa, a relationship counsellor, after they met as students at Oxford University. They share three children – Harry, Will and Alice – and split their time between north London and their second home in Suffolk.

Before his university stint, Nick was lucky to escape with his life when the car he was travelling in with friends in Europe exploded. Two of his friends were killed and Nick himself was “severely burned” and had to spend five weeks in hospital. Brian Redhead, father of one of the friends who died and a Today presenter himself, became Nick’s mentor and encouraged him to pursue a career in political journalism.

Nick Robinson’s glasses

In 2022, Nick revealed he’d undergone refractive lens surgery to fix his terrible vision after losing a game to Claudia Winkleman, who implored him to sort out his eyesight like she had.

“We were standing together on a stage rehearsing our lines for an awards ceremony,” he recalled in a Telegraph article. “I was struggling to read the autocue, which was at the back of a cavernous hall. ‘I’m half blind,’ I explained. ‘Not as blind as me, I bet,’ Claudia replied, beginning a game well-known to the myopically challenged – ‘Who’s got the stronger prescription?’

“Over 50 years it’s a game I had only lost once. Until that conversation.”

Nick has been able to ditch his trademark black-rimmed glasses since the surgery, something his children weren’t able to get used to at the beginning.

“It’s a curious sensation walking around without the glasses I’ve worn for all these years – I feel somehow naked,” he joked.

*The Panorama Interviews with Nick Robinson begin tonight at 8pm on BBC One

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