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Nicky Campbell

Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference London 2018 (44354608375) (cropped).jpg
Campbell speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London in 2018
Nicholas Lackey

(1961-04-10) 10 April 1961 (age 61)
Edinburgh, Scotland
EducationEdinburgh Academy
Alma materUniversity of Aberdeen
TelevisionWheel of Fortune
Top of the Pops
For the Rest of Your Life
The Big Questions
Long Lost Family
Spouse(s)Linda Larnach (m. 1988, div. 1995)
Tina Ritchie (m. 1997)

Nicholas Andrew Argyll Campbell, OBE (born Nicholas Lackey, 10 April 1961) is a Scottish radio and television presenter and journalist.

He has presented the BBC Radio 5 Live breakfast programme since 2003, BBC One's Sunday morning show The Big Questions from 2007 to 2021, and Long Lost Family on ITV since 2011. He presented the game show Wheel of Fortune from 1988 until 1996, and the consumer affairs programme Watchdog from 2001 to 2009.

Early life

Campbell was born on 10 April 1961 in Edinburgh and adopted as an infant. His adoptive mother was a psychiatric social worker and his adoptive father a publisher of maps. He was educated at the independent school Edinburgh Academy. In July 2022, he disclosed that he witnessed and experienced sexual and violent physical abuse there, which had a "profound effect on [his] life".[1][2] He studied history at the University of Aberdeen and graduated with a 2:1 degree.


Early work

Nicky Campbell presenting the Radio 1 Roadshow from Helensburgh in July 1989
Nicky Campbell presenting the Radio 1 Roadshow from Helensburgh in July 1989

After university, Campbell toyed with the idea of becoming an actor and got involved in commercial production for radio to gain his Equity card. At university, Campbell's best friend had been the actor Iain Glen. He worked at Northsound Radio in Aberdeen from 1981 to 1985, first as a jingle writer, before going on to host the breakfast show.


Campbell worked at London station Capital Radio from 1986–87, occasionally presented on Music Box and joined BBC Radio 1 in 1987, presenting a Saturday night show from 10 pm to midnight. In early 1988, he took over the weekend early morning show from 6 am to 8 am from Simon Mayo and in October 1988 he presented the music and interview show which he named Into the Night, which went out from 10 pm to midnight Monday to Thursday. Guests included political figures, with Campbell interviewing John Major in 1991, after Conservative Party chairman Chris Patten recommended the show to the Prime Minister when Radio 1 sent an invitation to No.10. He was also regularly joined by Frankie Howerd in the last years of the comedian's life. In August 1993, Campbell also took over a Sunday morning show from 10 am to 1 pm, following the on-air resignation of Dave Lee Travis.[3]

Campbell left the network briefly in October 1993 to care for his sick wife. In early 1994, he took over the weekday drivetime show from 4 pm to 7 pm, and in 1995, he took over the afternoon show from 2 pm to 4 pm. Campbell attracted a large audience, and when Radio 2 wanted a replacement for Jimmy Young, he said that he was the BBC's choice and detailed a series of meetings between himself and the controller of Radio 2. However, the BBC later said that Campbell had initiated the meetings himself, and his public revelations prompted the wrath of Greg Dyke.[4]

Campbell left BBC Radio 1 in October 1997 and joined the news and sport network BBC Radio 5 Live, when offered the job by Roger Mosey, the station's head. He presented the mid-morning programme on 5 Live for over 5 years before replacing Julian Worricker in the breakfast slot in January 2003, co-presenting initially with Victoria Derbyshire. From 2004 to 2011, he co-presented the programme with Shelagh Fogarty. In May 2011, Fogarty left the breakfast show and was replaced by Rachel Burden.[5] Campbell joins the programme half an hour later than Burden (6:30 am, as opposed to 6 am) and usually continues on his own for an hour at the end when the show becomes a topical events phone-in (Your Call). He also presented an interactive programme called Now You're Talking on the radio.

On 5 November 2021, Campbell presented his final Breakfast show on BBC Radio 5 Live as he prepares to host a new phone-in programme on the network.[6]


Campbell presented the British version of Wheel of Fortune (produced by Scottish Television for the ITV network) from 1988 to 1996.

He regularly hosted Top of the Pops from 1988 to 1991 and again from 1994 to 1997. In the 1990s, Campbell fronted Central Weekend on Central Television in the English Midlands and Carlton Live in London with Richard Littlejohn and then Andrew Neil.

In 2001, Campbell began presenting the BBC consumer affairs programme Watchdog. He presented the show alongside Kate Gerbeau until 2004 and then alongside Julia Bradbury from 2004 until 2009, when it was revealed that Anne Robinson would replace Campbell and Bradbury for the next series of Watchdog, which began airing in September 2009.

In 2006, Campbell appeared in the singing show Just the Two of Us, with Beverley Knight.[citation needed]

From 2007 until 2009, Campbell hosted For the Rest of Your Life for Endemol, beginning in May 2007. Campbell featured in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? that aired 11 July 2007, where he was seen tracing his adoptive family's roots in Scotland and Australia.

Campbell also narrates the CBeebies show "Our Story".[7]

He currently presents The Big Questions on BBC One and has done so since 2007. He hosted the second series of the BBC Two quiz show Battle of the Brains in 2009. He replaced Paddy O'Connell, who presented the first series.

Since 2011, Campbell has co-presented the BAFTA award-winning Long Lost Family, with Davina McCall on ITV.[8] The show aims to reunite family members and as of 2021, ten series have aired. Campbell also co-hosted BBC One's Your Money Their Tricks opposite Rebecca Wilcox and Sian Williams in July 2013.

In early 2014, Campbell presented four-part series Wanted: A Family of My Own beginning 24 April on ITV.[9] In 2015, he wrote and presented an episode of Perspectives on his great love for 'The Great American Song Book' and a one-off episode called Rebuild Our Home, both for ITV.[10]


Campbell started out as a jingle writer and when he was on BBC Radio 1 from 1987 to 1997, he wrote some of the music for the station.[citation needed] He has written and co-produced a jazz swing album for singer and actor Mark Moraghan, Moonlight's Back in Style, released on Linn Records in September 2009. Campbell and Moraghan met on Just the Two of Us in 2006. Campbell is a company director of Mhor Music Ltd.,[11] an original music company producing bespoke and original music for feature film, television, corporate media, online content and ringtones; and Mhor Productions Ltd., a supplier of radio and television programming and broadcasting activities.

Campbell and Kate Robbins co-wrote and recorded an album, We're Just Passing Through, which was released on 7 July 2014.

Other work

In 2004, he wrote a book called 'Blue Eyed Son', about his own adoption experience. Campbell currently narrates the Channel 5 documentary series Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords.[citation needed]

Awards and honours

Campbell has won seven Sony Awards, including a Gold Award in 2007 for the Radio 5 Live Breakfast programme as "Best News and Current Affairs Programme" (with Shelagh Fogarty). In 2008, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

In 2013, Long Lost Family won a Royal Television Society Award for best 'Popular Factual' programme and in 2014 a Television BAFTA award for best "Features Programme". It was nominated for a National Television Award in the "Factual Programme" category, but lost out to Gogglebox.

Campbell was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2015 Birthday Honours, for his services to children.[12]

Personal life

Campbell met his first wife Linda Larnach, a divorcee, eight years his senior with two sons whilst working at a local radio station in Scotland. They moved to North London where he would later nurse her through a health scare and ME, and encouraged his young stepsons in their footballing endeavours, he hosted auctions to raise funds for their local amateur club. He reportedly took time out from his career during Larnach's illness.[13] When they subsequently separated she gave interviews in which she said his career break had been a publicity stunt.[14]

Campbell married his second wife, journalist Christina "Tina" Ritchie who is the former head of Virgin Radio News,[15] in December 1997 in Kensington and the couple have four daughters.

In 1989, during his first marriage, Campbell credited Larnach's support in tracing his birth mother. Following his second marriage and the birth of four children of his own with Ritchie, he decided in 2002 to find his Irish biological father. Whereas his birth mother was from a Dublin Protestant family, his biological father was a Northern Irish Catholic thirteen years younger than her. He also discovered that his grandfather had been in the IRA in 1919–1921, and his biological father had been active in the IRA of the 1950s, and still held Irish Republican views. However, these claims were heavily disputed by members of his birth family who stated that his father's side of the family were Protestant, yet his grandfather was a member of the Garda Siochana who were loyal to the elected Republican Government.[16]

Campbell has been diagnosed as bipolar and has candidly discussed his depression and difficulty in coping with life's challenges.[17]

In 2004, Campbell wrote Blue-Eyed Son [Story of an Adoption], his account of being adopted and tracing both his birth parents and his extended families in Ireland. Both sides of his birth families helped with and contributed to the book. His birth mother, Stella, died in 2007; Campbell spoke at her Dublin funeral. As a result of his book and his work promoting adoption, he was asked to become a Patron of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).[18]

He is also involved in campaigning on animal rights issues. He has spoken at the annual 'March for Elephants and Rhino' and written extensively on the issues for the national press. He works closely with Will Travers, Virginia McKenna and the Born Free Foundation.[19]

On 12 December 2019, Campbell announced via social media that his mother Sheila had died at the age of 96.[20] She had appeared in her son's episode of Who Do You Think You Are in 2007.


Year Title Role Channel Notes
1991–2001 Central Weekend Presenter Central Television
1988–1996 Wheel of Fortune Presenter Scottish Television
1988–1991 You'd Better Believe It! Presenter Grampian Television Only screened in Scotland.
1988–1991, 1994–1997 Top of the Pops Presenter BBC One
2001–2009 Watchdog Co-presenter With Kate Gerbeau and Julia Bradbury
2006 Just the Two of Us Contestant First series
2007–2009 For the Rest of Your Life Presenter ITV
2007– The Big Questions Presenter BBC One
2009 Battle of the Brains Presenter BBC Two
2011– Long Lost Family Co-presenter ITV With Davina McCall
2012–2014 My Story Narrator CBeebies
2013 Your Money Their Tricks Co-presenter BBC One With Sian Williams and Rebecca Wilcox
2014 Wanted: A Family of My Own Presenter ITV 1 series
2015 Perspectives: The Great American Love Song Presenter Guest presenter; 1 episode
Rebuild Our Home Presenter One-off episode
2017 All Star Musicals[21] Participant
2018 Coronation Street's DNAo Presenter One-off Episode
2020 The Chase Celebrity Special Contestant Christmas Special
Year Network Programme Role Notes
1981–85 Northsound Radio weekdays Presenter
1987–? BBC Radio 1 Saturdays, 10 pm Presenter
1988–? Weekends, 6 – 8 am Presenter
1993 Sundays, 10 am – 1 pm Presenter
1994 Weekdays, 4 – 7 pm Presenter
1995 Weekdays, 2–4 pm Presenter
1997–2003 BBC Radio 5 Live Mid-morning Presenter
2003–2021 Breakfast show Presenter
2021–present Mid-morning Presenter


  1. ^ "Nicky Campbell: School abuse still haunts me". BBC News. 27 July 2022. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Different with Nicky Campbell - Edgar - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  3. ^ Garfield, Simon. The Nation's Favourite (1998)
  4. ^ "Oiling his wheel of fortune". The Scotsman. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Rachel Burden announced as new 5 Live Breakfast presenter". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Nicky Campbell praises co-host Rachel Burden on his last 5 Live Breakfast show". BBC News. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  7. ^ "New series of My Story". 5 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Davina McCall for new 'Long Lost Family'". 3 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Wanted: A Family of My Own Episode 1".
  10. ^ "Rebuild Our Home Episode 1".
  11. ^ "Mhor Music Limited – Company Profile & Information".
  12. ^ "Nicky Campbell shocked by OBE while bioscientist Professor Downes leads acclaimed Scots". Daily Express. 13 June 2015.
  13. ^ "AM/FM Online Edition #16: 1993".
  14. ^ "Long Lost Family on ITV1: Is Nicky Campbell married? How old is he?". Entertainment Daily. 18 January 2021. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Nicky Campbell: My life in media". The Independent. London. 21 May 2007. Archived from the original on 6 June 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  16. ^ "Nicky Campbell stands by claim he is son of IRA man". The Guardian. 12 October 2003. Retrieved 10 December 2003.
  17. ^ "Long Lost Family's Nicky Campbell speaks candidly about shock health diagnosis". HELLO!. 15 April 2021. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Nicky Campbell: Biography". Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Our Celebrity Supporters". Born Free Foundation. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Nicky Campbell pays tribute to 'wonderful mum'". BBC News. 12 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Press Releases".
Preceded byNone Host of Wheel of Fortune 1988–96 Succeeded byBradley Walsh Academic offices Preceded byNicholas Parsons Rector of the University of St Andrews 1991–1993 Succeeded byDonald Findlay