Meet renowned TV Presenter and Reporter, Nick Wallis. He has been working in both the TV and journalism industry for over 20 years now and in that time he’s taken on assignments that have covered practically every aspect of the profession. His interviewing has seen him sharing a platform with people from numerous industries ranging from entertainment to politics.
Nick has interviewed singers such as Madonna, Bruce Willis and Halle Berry. He has even been lucky enough to question several of the UK’s Prime Ministers (before they became PM’s) though his regret is not getting Gordon Brown. Some of his recent work includes the Post Office Scandal. Oh, and he’s seen a different side to Ian Hislop when he’s not on-screen in HIGNFY. His new book, The Great Post Office Scandal is out now
“I would say interviewing is perhaps one of my stronger points”
So, you’ve been working in the journalism field for over 2 decades, what was it about the occupation that attracted you to it?
It’s a transferable skill, and I later learned it can help people raise awareness of serious issues by shining a spotlight on them.
And did you start locally e.g interning for a local paper or did you find that you had to go further afield?
I was very lucky. I always wanted to work in radio and eventually got my way into BBC Oxford. I did travel news, then local sports news and the local editor presumably saw enough in me to send me on an internal BBC training course to become a journalist.
In regards to the fields of journalism itself there’s things like research, writing articles, conducting interviews and writing columns etc. Throughout your time have you been able to get experience doing all of these?
I’m mainly a broadcast journalist, so I do more interviews that writing articles, but I have now done most aspects of journalism!
And out of all of them which ones would you say you stronger points were?
I like chatting to people, so I would say interviewing is perhaps one of my stronger points.
Also you’ve done a lot of presenting on TV with programmes such as The One Show, Inside Out and Panorama. How confident were you getting in front of the camera?
I was awful at first and not very confident. The only way you get anywhere with anything is practice. Even the best work very hard to make it look effortless.
You’ve also presented shows on radio such as The Great Post Office Trial . How confident were you presenting on radio bearing in mind it’s an audio format?
Radio is my home medium (if there is such a thing) so it was great to go back to it in 2020 after five years of straight television.
So out of the two, TV and radio which do you prefer, if any?
Radio is more personal, TV can have more impact. Never underestimate the power of pictures. On balance, I feel grateful enough to be able to work in both.
You have also written for Private Eye, which is infamously edited by Ian Hislop. As an editor is Ian good to get along with?
I have very little contact with Ian, but every time I have met him he has been incredibly supportive. His quote sits on the front cover of my book.
So whenever we see him on Have I Got News For You (HIGNFY) would it be fair to say then that that’s an exaggerated form of his personality or the same as it is off-screen?
In my experience he’s more serious in real life!
In regards to viewing formats there’s a steady increase in programmes being shown on the Internet, unless you’ve already done so would you ever consider this?
Yes, if someone paid me and the subject matter/format made sense.
You’ve also been appointed to the position of Series Consultant for ITV for a programme called People vs Post Office. How did all of that come about?
It’s quite complicated. I had a chat with Katie Glass who was writing a piece for the Sunday Times on the Post Office scandal. When her piece came out she was approached by a force of nature called Natasha Bondy who wanted to make a documentary about the scandal. Katie put her in touch with me, and I put Natasha in touch with Alan Bates from the Justice for Subpostmaters’ Alliance. Before we knew it, Natasha had got Patrick Spence at ITV Studios involved and the whole thing was being developed as a drama. It’s a privilege to be part of it.
So do you think that there was more that needed to be said in regards to the story?
So much more. And the drama will reach many more people than any of my work has.
You’ve also made a book about it, tell us more.
It’s called The Great Post Office Scandal. I’ve tried to write a definitive account of the last 25-odd years whilst still making it a page-turner. It’s got 4.9 stars out of 5 on Amazon and the one-star reviewer said such incredidbly nice things she either pressed the wrong button or is very hard to please.
For over a year and a half the way TV is made, from serials, films, documentaries and reports completely changed due to both Covid and the national lockdown. How challenging did you find it to produce TV content?
Making TV news is hard, making TV news in a pandemic is annoying and hard. I remain in awe of the people we film and speak to. Many clinicians, carers and young people have been through hell. I worry for them.
Over the course of your career you’ve also interviewed many celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Madonna, Dave Attenborough, Nick Cave and Halle Berry to name but a few. Considering their persona and public status was it easy to make connections with them while interviewing them?
No, it’s virtually impossible, especially given the limited time frames available. All the people you mentioned were very happy to chat, though.
Were their any which went better than others or you feel had more depth as things went on?
I’ve had some disasters and some wonderful moments. Most interviews with celebrities are not edifying experiences.
You’ve also interviewed numerous Prime Ministers, minus Gordon Brown. How did they go and was it easy to form a connection with them whilst talking with them?
I should clarify I interviewed them before they became Prime Ministers. Tony Blair was very charismatic, Cameron was on autopilot, Teresa May seemed surprised by challenging questions and Boris Johnson was charmingly bonkers.
As you will have no doubt have seen on TV, when it comes to conducting interviews with politicians can it be challenging in itself trying to communicate with them?
At least politicians want to be interviewed. Lots of celebrities don’t. I prefer the personal experiences of people who are neither politicians or celebrities.
And have you often found yourself thinking ‘honestly, I’d get more luck trying to get blood out of a stone than get answers from you’?
So it’s now 2022 and we’re making a gradual return to some form of normality, what can we expect from you?
I’m hoping to go and do some journalism in America. COVID-willing.