Huw Edwards is facing one of the toughest challenges of his career as anchor of the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s funeral today.
The veteran broadcaster has been at the centre of the BBC’s news programming following Elizabeth II’s death ten days ago. Some viewers have expressed “concern” about Edwards’ well-being after noticing that one of his eyes appeared “bloodshot”, the Daily Express reported.
Now, he and Tom Bradby are going “head-to-head” as the BBC and ITV “battle it out for viewers of their coverage of the Queen’s funeral”, said the Daily Mail. Asked during an interview with Men’s Health earlier this year how he would react if asked to report on the death of Her Majesty, Edwards said: “You have to get the tone right – and in many cases it’s not an obvious thing to get right. It’s easy to slip in a word or a phrase that’s not meant in an offensive way but kicks off.”
Who is Huw Edwards?
Edwards was born in Bridgend in Wales in 1961 and brought up in Llangennech, near Llanelli. His mother was a teacher and his father was a Plaid Cymru and Welsh language activist, author and academic of some renown. During an interview with former Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell, now a mental health columnist at Men’s Health magazine, Edwards said that his father “was absent most of the time when I was growing up”.
“When we did see him, he tended to be unbelievably tired and ratty,” he added.
Edwards was educated at Llanelli Boys’ Grammar School and studied French at Cardiff’s University College. After graduating with first-class honours, he became a reporter for local radio station Swansea Sound, before joining the BBC as a trainee in 1984.
Two years later, he became parliamentary correspondent for BBC Wales. A meteoric rise through the ranks followed. Edwards presented the BBC Six O’Clock News, between 1999 and 2003, when it was the most watched news programme in Britain, before becoming the host of the Ten O’Clock News on BBC One.
He is married to TV producer Vicky Flind, who has worked on the BBC’s This Week and ITV’s Peston. They have five children together and live in Dulwich, London.
Mental health battles
Edwards has battled depression for 20 years and has spoken candidly about how it has affected his career. “It’s not anxiety, although it includes anxiety, but it tends to hit me in a strong wave and then go away,” he told Campbell for Men’s Health.
“You come into work and obviously you do a professional job, but you’re kind of pushing your way through it,” he added.
Edwards has said that after revealing his mental health issues, a colleague told him that the BBC “doesn’t want people to think there’s a nutter reading the ten o’clock news”. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 podcast Fortunately… with Fi and Jane, Edwards claimed that he initially faced a “deep-freeze silence” from the corporation after going public about his depression.
He told Campbell that taking up boxing had helped him cope. “It’s one of the things I can do when I feel myself on the slide,” he said. “I can pull my way out of it.”
Edwards added that his trainer, former boxer Clinton McKenzie, has a son who has had depression, “so he understands this stuff”.
Edwards has also been at the centre of coverage of major recent events including the 2019 general election. Over the years, he has “delivered the news of Barack Obama’s first election” and “the results of the EU referendum” , said The Independent.
Edwards also announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II to the nation on Thursday 8 September.
His extensive coverage since then of her passing has been praised as a “masterclass” in broadcasting, the paper reported. The Mirror’s TV critic said that Edwards “broke the Queen’s death without putting a foot wrong”.
Edwards has put in a “marathon set of shifts”, Hyland wrote, yet has “consistently got the tone right”.
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