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Alumni testimonials

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson – MML French and Spanish, 2005-2009 (Girton)

Background: Northern Ireland, grammar school

Career: 7+ years working for the BBC, Newsnight, BBC News, researcher and reporting. Since 2018: Senior Reporter for LBC Radio.

Describing my work, I suppose you’d say that I have a wide-ranging brief as the senior reporter at LBC, encompassing politics (I’m a member of the Parliamentary Lobby) home affairs (police, crime, criminal justice) and certainly for the last year, COVID. In practice that means providing insight and analysis on events to LBC’s growing audience (3 million and counting!) and delivering a consistent diet of exclusive stories.

In terms of how my degree helped me get there... of course an MA cantab always opens doors. But I began life at the BBC and, particularly at a programme like Newsnight, my languages were invaluable. It has a global remit, and the ability to bid for high profile French and Spanish guests was crucial in the early days. As  I rose through the ranks I was increasingly sent abroad to cover major stories like the Catalan independence crisis, the death of Fidel Castro and the French Presidential election. I was chosen for those assignments almost directly as a result of my languages, and they proved formative in my career. Not to mention the suite of analytical skills I developed as a student. The ability to digest large quantities of information and quickly pick out essential themes is equally applicable to the Government’s latest race report as it is to the novels of Zola!