Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The BBC Superstar We Have Never Seen; as the Main Evening News Presenter on BBC World, Mishal Husain Is a Familiar Face in 200 Countries. but Not Here

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The BBC Superstar We Have Never Seen; as the Main Evening News Presenter on BBC World, Mishal Husain Is a Familiar Face in 200 Countries. but Not Here

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID ROWAN

SHE is the global television star from Britain you may not have heard of - the glamorous face of an international network who has been profiled in Vanity Fair, praised as "spellbinding" by the Washington Times, and drooled over by Canada's Globe and Mail for her "enormous, beguiling brown eyes".

Website polls have voted her one of "the world's sexiest anchors", and strangers stop her in American shopping malls. Yet as she strolled down Hampstead High Street on Monday after a prewedding hairdressing appointment, Mishal Husain did not attract a second glance. Mishal who?

As the main evening news presenter on BBC World, Husain, 30, can be seen in 200 countries, but not Britain. Based until this week in Washington DC, she is also a BBC news correspondent and from tomorrow will present a documentary series on US public television alongside Jamie Rubin, the former Assistant Secretary of State.

So what is it like, after establishing a career as a BBC business reporter, to find yourself suddenly treated as a hot new celebrity?

"It takes some getting used to," Husain admits with a diffident smile, her still unaffected manner suggesting that the buzz has surprised her as much as anyone.

"I was quite bemused to see the gossip columns, and being stopped in the street is a bit strange. I've been in Bloomingdales, on the phone, when a woman passed me a note, asking, 'Are you Mishal Husain?' She was a staunch Republican who had firm views about how we were covering the war, and wanted me to know that we weren't being fair to the President."

The BBC mischievously claims that Husain's evening newscasts are "seen by a worldwide audience of over 256 million" - a distortion worthy of Alastair Campbell's attention, considering that Husain herself understands her nightly US audience to be "almost a million".

Still, since last September, when she arrived as the corporation's first Washington-based anchor, her profile has grown along with the network's as viewers have scrabbled to find informed foreign news.

Iraq, she recognises, has been her lucky break. "The BBC has been in the right place at the right time in America," she says. "Everything that's happened to me in the past couple of years I could not have predicted. I have no expectations."

Mishal Husain was born in Britain to Pakistani parents, and at two went to live in the Emirates, where her father was a surgeon. While reading law at Cambridge, she found work experience at the BBC, followed by stints at The Times, the Telegraph and Pakistan's daily paper, The News.

After taking a master's in law at the European University Institute in Florence, she found a job at Bloomberg TV, where she wrote, produced and occasionally presented. Then came a producer's job at BBC World, where she was first tested as an anchor three summers ago. …

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