John Cole, much-loved former BBC political editor, dies aged 85

Cole covered politics during the Margaret Thatcher era and was notable for his strong Northern Irish accent

The former BBC political editor John Cole has died aged 85 after a long illness.


Known as much for his skill and tenacity as a journalist as for his strong Northern Irish accent, which was frequently lampooned by satirists, he was strongly associated with the Margaret Thatcher era.

Stories covered during his tenure between 1981 and 1992 include the miners’ strike and the Brighton bombing.

“While many people will remember John for his journalism and broadcasting, for us he was the most loving, funny and devoted husband, father and grandfather,” his family said in a statement. “We will miss him terribly.”

Cole stepped down in 1992 and refused all attempts to interview him abvout his departure, a fact which reflected his measured and modest approach to the job, which many agreed he performed with immense professionalism.

Cole arrived at the BBC in 1981 from the Observer, where he was deputy editor.

He was said to have disliked the constant reference to his accent in the programme Spitting Image and in the satirical magazine Private Eye which ran parodies always beginning “Hondootedly” (Unbdoubtedly).

He once revealed he was ”irritated” at the suggestion by “English society” that he was unintelligible.