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Nicholas Andrew Argyll Campbell, OBE (born Nicholas Lackey, 10 April 1961; publicly known as Nicky Campbell) 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 since 2007, 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.
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". He studied history at the University of Aberdeen and graduated with a 2:1 degree.
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.
In his 2021 memoir ‘One of the Family’ Campbell describes his lifelong obsession with radio and how he and his best friend at the time, the actor Iain Glen, would call various Radio Forth phone in shows pretending to be different characters.
He started working for Northsound Radio in Aberdeen while still at University there, making commercials and writing jingles. In 1983 he was offered his own show, ‘The World of Opera’ which aired every Sunday Night at 9pm. On one occasion the DJ presenting the late night pop show after him didn’t turn up and Campbell had to take the reins. Shortly after this he was offered the station’s Breakfast Show which he presented until 1986 when he sent a tape to Capital Radio in London and was given a try-out on the Saturday Afternoon Show. He then took over the Weekend Breakfast Show from Roger Scott and was used as a daytime ‘dep' for all the main daytime programmes.
The Capital Radio roster at the time included Roger Scott, Kenny Everett, Alan Freeman, Chris Tarrant and David ‘Kid’ Jensen. It was while standing in for Tarrant and also Jensen that the Head of Music at Radio One Doreen Davis poached him from Capital and he joined the national network in October 1987.
He first presented the late night Saturday programme but was soon moved to the weekend early show. In 1989 he was offered the weekday late night slot which was named ‘Into the Night’. He played a wide variety of music and hosted an eclectic selection of guests for long interviews. These included Frank Zappa, David Icke, John Major, the Bee Gees and the Reverend Ian Paisley. He was also regularly joined by Frankie Howerd in the last years of the comedian's life. In August 1994, Campbell also briefly took over a Sunday morning show, following the on-air resignation of Dave Lee Travis.
Campbell left the network briefly in October 1994 to care for his sick wife. He then presented the weekday Drivetime show, and in 1995, he took over the afternoon show.
In 1997 he 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 phone in show for 5 years before replacing Julian Worricker in the breakfast slot in January 2003, co-presenting initially with Victoria Derbyshire. In 2001 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 about private negotiations prompted the wrath of the Director General Greg Dyke. 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. Campbell started presenting a one hour at 9am phone-in ‘Your Call’ after the main show. Burden and Campbell presented together until 2021 when Campbell moved to a two hour phone-in programme from ten to midday every weekday morning.
From April 2023 this will also be broadcast on the BBC News Channel, the iPlayer and BBC2.
In his time at BBC Radio Five Live Campbell has covered four Olympic Games, three Football World Cups and three European Championships and every general election and referendum since 1997. He has won many awards for his Radio Work. In 1999 he was voted Variety Club Radio Personality of the year. He has won several Sony Awards including 5 Gold and in 2017 he and Rachel Burden won the Aria Award for ‘Best Speech Presenter Breakfast.'
In 2014 Campbell was inducted into the Arqiva Radio Academy Hall of Fame which recognises the ‘immense contribution that celebrated broadcasters and presenters have made to UK audio and radio over many years.’
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.
From 2007 until 2009, Campbell hosted the Endemol produced For the Rest of Your Life for ITV, 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".
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. 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. 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.
Campbell is a self-taught musician and plays piano, guitar and ukulele.
After composing songs for Aberdeen University Theatre on Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Campbell started writing music for radio jingles and commercials at Northsound Radio in 1981, while still at college.
In 1996 while at Radio One he won a Sony Award (silver) for his original compositions for BBC Radio One Afternoon Show he presented at the time.
In 2009, after meeting the actor Mark Moraghan, Campbell wrote a swing album for him, Moonlight’s Back in Style which was released by Linn Records.
He also appeared on the album singing some backing vocals and the two of them performed the track ‘Through it All’ on Children in Need.
‘Through It All’ was also covered by ‘The Ukuleles' on their debut album released by Demon Music.
In 2014 Campbell co-wrote the album ‘Just Passing Through ‘ with Kate Robbins which was released in July of that year. They both appeared on the record.
He composed the original theme music for ‘The Big Questions’ the BBC1 Sunday morning debate show which ran from 2007-2021.
In 2017 Campbell was asked to write the song ‘Sacred Eyes’ for the 40th anniversary of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and a video about the famous elephant orphanage. The music was performed by Kit Morgan and Logan Wilson with a string quartet arranged by Paul Buck.
He has written all the music for his podcast about dogs ‘One of the Family’ and also for the BBC Radio 5 Live podcast ‘Different’.
Campbell is a company director of Mhor Music Ltd., an original music company producing bespoke and original music for film, television, corporate media, online content and Mhor Productions Ltd.
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.
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. When they subsequently separated she gave interviews in which she said his career break had been a publicity stunt.
Campbell married his second wife, journalist Christina "Tina" Ritchie who is the former head of Virgin Radio News, 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.
Campbell has been diagnosed as bipolar and has candidly discussed his depression and difficulty in coping with life's challenges.
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).
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.
On 12 December 2019, Campbell announced via social media that his mother Sheila had died at the age of 96. She had appeared in her son's episode of Who Do You Think You Are in 2007.