Half a Century in the Media – Nicholas Owen.
Nicholas began by talking about his early childhood in Kingswood, Surrey. He was raised there and later moved to the Redhill and Reigate area. He finished his local education at what was then West Ewell secondary modern, on Danetree Road in Ewell with five O-levels so he was very much a local.
Nicholas began his journalistic career on the Surrey Mirror in 1964 aged 17, before moving to Fleet Street in 1968 to work for the Evening Standard. He then joined The Daily Telegraph before spending seven years with the Financial Times. He then joined the magazine “NOW” owned by Sir James Goldsmith in 1979, as Deputy Business Editor, later becoming Business Editor. In 1981, He was extremely well paid but the venture was doomed to failure.
Nicholas said he switched to television reporting, joining the BBC in the North of England, covering general and industrial stories for both regional and national news and current affairs programmes. Nicholas moved to ITN in 1984, as Channel 4 News‘ Business and Economics Correspondent. During the First Gulf War he presented the highly acclaimed Midnight Special Programmes when they were launched on Channel 4. He also anchored The Parliament Programme, Channel 4’s first daytime political series.
From 1994 to April 2000 Nicholas was Royal Correspondent for ITV News. He recalled going on many Royal State visits and specifically remembered an occasion when he was on board the Royal Yacht Britannia and being approached by the Queen who engaged him in conversation about the current trip to South Africa. A situation he found incredible for a working class boy from Surrey. In that capacity he also played a major role in reporting on the death and Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. He compiled a book on her life entitled Diana – The People’s Princess.
In October 2006, Nicholas took part in BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing. He was voted off in the first week of the show on 7 October. The BBC Press Office announced in November 2006 that Owen had signed to BBC News as a presenter. His last broadcast on ITV was the ITV Evening News on 7 February 2007, and he took up his BBC News post on 3 March 2007.Owen was a relief presenter on the BBC News Channel, as well as being a main relief presenter for the BBC Weekend News on BBC One.Nichoas has a regular Saturday afternoon show on Classic FM, and contributes to other radio and TV programmes.
Finally Nicholas talked about his passion for railways, and has written books on the Brighton Belle[ and the history of the trolleybus. Nicholas was a Vice-Patron of the Bluebell Railway‘s project to extend the line towards East Grinstead.
In 2015 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Brighton University for his work in journalism and his support for various charities. Among those charities is the Prince’s Trust, for which he is an Ambassador.