Former TV newsreader Sir Martyn Lewis on his love of Norfolk, the Holt Festival and an embarrassing moment with MP David Steel

PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 July 2019

Sir Martyn Lewis CBE

Sir Martyn Lewis CBE


Sir Martyn Lewis once asked for more good news - and the good news is, he’s visiting Norfolk. You can hear him speak at the Holt Festival on July 22. He tells Gina Long MBE what he loves (and hates) about East Anglia...

During three decades as a television journalist Sir Martyn anchored every mainstream national news programme on ITV & BBC TV. He now works extensively in the voluntary sector, his most prominent current role being Chair of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. He founded the UK's first internet charity "YouthNet" (now "The Mix") and recently served 6 years as Chairman of NCVO, the main umbrella body for the voluntary sector. He has just set up a company, selling news videos to celebrate special occasions. He appears at Holt Festival on 22 July

What is your connection to East Anglia?

There are four : we have a great friend with a house at Weybourne where we stay as often as we can; I am Vice-President of East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) who are building a fantastic new children's hospice 5 miles south of Norwich in Framingham Earl; I am an advisor to the board of Fountain, a Google award-winning digital marketing agency co-founded in Norwich by my niece; and my wife's mother had a house in Kelling for many years.

What is your East Anglian Heaven ie what do you love most about East Anglia?

Long walks along the clifftops and pebble beaches (while trying to avoid "doing a Neil Kinnock").

What is your East Anglian Hell ie what you hate most about living here?

As I don't live permanently here I have the pleasant option of avoiding the cold winds of winter sweeping in from the North Sea.

What's your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

A toss-up between the Wiveton Bell near Holt (their Sticky Date Pudding is to die for) and 1 Cromer with its incredibly fresh seafood.

What's your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

Eating fish and chips with champagne on a bench on Cromer pier as the summer sun sets, and then going on to enjoy the "end of the pier" show. A friend once organised that as a birthday treat for my wife. Sensational !

What's your favourite East Anglian landmark?

Blakeney Point - to watch the seals and swim.

What's the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

The Holt Festival every July.

What your specialist Mastermind subject?

Good food.

What is always in your fridge?

Brittany salted butter

What's your simple philosophy of life?

Never panic, because if you do you are less able to deal with the situation that would normally have made you panic in the first place.

What's your favourite film?

Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis.

What was your first job?

Fish packer on an island 40 miles south of Iceland (summer job!).

What is your most treasured possession?

A Longines replica of the hour angle watch worn by Charles Lindbergh when he became the first person to fly the Atlantic solo.

Who do you admire most?

You may also want to watch:

Unquestionably The Queen, for her ability to be a rock of respect, dignity and national pride throughout whatever troubles or arguments our country is going through.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Holidays - I call them "islands in my life" to refresh and re-invigorate for the next challenge in store.

What do you like about yourself most?

Optimism and enthusiasm in everything I do.

What's your worst character trait?

Being TOO optimistic and TOO enthusiastic.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

That keeps changing, but currently St Barths in the Caribbean.

Best day of your life?

When my two daughters showed me the medical tests that revealed they had not inherited the Huntington's gene that devastated their mother.

What's your favourite breakfast?

A teaspoon of Wakaya ginger powder dissolved in a cup of hot water, and a bowl of blueberries.

What's your favourite tipple?

Unoaked Chablis - luckily the cheapest kind.

What's your hidden talent?

I make sensational creamy scrambled eggs without cream, milk or butter.

When were you most embarrassed?

I once approached someone who, from behind, looked like a salesman in Simpson's in Piccadilly and asked him where I could find black socks. He turned around and it was David Steel, then Liberal leader. He was a salesman, but of politics, not socks !

What's your earliest memory?

Watching the Queen's coronation on a new fangled gadget my father had just bought - called a television set.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

I Vow to Thee My Country.

Tell us something people don't know about you?

My first "public appearance" was at the age of two when a photo of me taken by my father won an Amateur Photographer competition to find "Britain's Bonniest Baby". It was then used in newspaper ads for Cow & Gate baby food. I'm now old enough not to mind that getting out!

What's the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

My headmaster calling me into his study and saying he wasn't going to make me head boy because I didn't have enough tact - one of life's lessons.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I'm giving a talk on the global momentum for Solutions-Focused Journalism at the Holt Festival at 2.30pm on 22nd July. And I have founded a new company selling 6-minute videos for every date in the year and most years over the last century. With wonderful material from the ITN and Reuters archives, and your personal message embedded in the opening titles, they are ordered and delivered easily online and cost just £19.95 - a unique present for celebrating a birthday, anniversary or special occasion. Check out your date at

To follow Gina Long @geewizzgee1or email

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