Sunday, 18 December 2016

RIP Michael Nicholson

The former ITN foreign correspondent and journalist Michael Nicholson OBE passed away earlier this week at the  age of 79.

A peerless and deeply courageous reporter, Nicholson reported from 18 war zones in a forty year career at ITN which commenced in 1964. These 'hotspots' included Biafra, Israel, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Congo, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Indo-Pakistan, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and both Gulf Wars. He also worked as ITN's first bureau cheif in South Africa, reporting from the Apartheid regime and bringing the Soweto riots to global attention. An assignment to Angola to interview UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in 1978 saw him and his crew trapped by Cuban mercenaries for the communist MPLA government, walking 1,500 miles through the bush for four and a half months in their bid to escape their pursuers and were eventually airlifted to freedom.

Perhaps most famously of all though Nicholson, whilst reporting from Sarajevo on the Bosnian conflict in 1992, discovered 200 orphans sheltering in the mortared remains of the city. Fearing for their safety, he pleaded with the authorities to evacuate the refugees, four of whom had already died, and successfully smuggled one nine-year-old Natasha, who had been abandoned by her mother, out of the country by claiming she was his daughter. He subsequently adopted her, bringing her up as part of his family and published his account Natasha's Story in 1994. The book went on to form the basis of Michael Winterbottom's 1997 movie Welcome to Sarajevo in which Stephen Dillane starred as war correspondent Michael Henderson - a thinly disguised Nicholson - who rescues a young girl Emira from the horrors of war.

Natasha went on to gain a HND in Sports Sciences at the University of Bath and Michael leaves behind his wife, Lisa, their two children and their two adopted children, Natasha and Ana, whom he adopted from Brazil.


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