John Craven: Best part of my job is being regarded as a friend by fans

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John Craven has said one of the best parts of his job is being considered a friend by people he has never met.

The veteran broadcaster, whose career has spanned five decades, also said he has always been himself on screen and has never put on an act.

The 78-year-old told BBC Countryfile Magazine that he has coped with being in the public eye for so long because “it’s been part of the job for more than 50 years” and because he has “always worked on programmes viewers respect”.

He said fans are “always very pleasant when they approach for a chat, an autograph or a selfie”.

He added: “One of the great joys of being at BBC Countryfile Live every August is to be regarded as a friend by folks I’ve never met before, who come up and tell me how much they love the show.

“My oddest request for an autograph came when I was filming in Australia. During some time off I was standing alone at the end of a pier, lost in thought, when an expat voice said in my ear ‘What are you doing here, John? You’re a long way from Countryfile.'”

Craven, who joined Countryfile in 1989 after hosting children’s news programme Newsround for 17 years, said he has learned to “always be yourself” as a presenter.

“It’s different, of course, for actors, because they play many parts, but reporters and presenters are soon sniffed out by the audience if they put on an act,” he said.

“I’ve always believed my role to be that of a straightforward storyteller, passing on information in a clear and truthful way. On Newsround, I tried to explain things simply without being simplistic and, with an adult slant, it’s been much the same on Countryfile.”

BBC Countryfile Live 2018
John Craven during BBC Countryfile Live (Steve Parsons/PA)

Craven, who was a print journalist before joining the BBC in Newcastle as a news scriptwriter in 1965, said he would have chosen to be the captain of an airliner had he not had a career in the media.

“What a view from the office window! I was once allowed to sit in the cockpit of a Concorde on a flight to Washington and it was so exhilarating, especially when we broke the sound barrier.

“The crew told me there were expansion joints along the airframe because Concorde stretched a few inches when it went supersonic.”

The full interview appears in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s August issue, out now.

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