Tim Sebastian

Last updated

Tim Sebastian
Born (1952-03-13) 13 March 1952 (age 71)
London, England, United Kingdom
Alma mater New College, Oxford
Cardiff University
  • Television journalist
  • novelist
Notable credits

Tim Sebastian (born 13 March 1952) [1] is an English television journalist and novelist. He is the moderator of Conflict Zone [2] and New Arab Debates [3] on Deutsche Welle. He previously worked for the BBC, where he hosted Doha Debates [4] and was the first presenter of HARDtalk . [5] Sebastian also presented Bloomberg TV's The Outsider, an India-focused debating programme. [6] [7]


He won the Richard Dimbleby Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1981, [8] and was twice designated Royal Television Society Interviewer of the Year in the United Kingdom — once in 2000 and again in 2001. [1]

Early life and education

Sebastian was born in London, England. He was educated at Westminster School, a fee-paying independent school in Central London. He holds a BA degree in Modern Languages from New College, Oxford and speaks both German and Russian. [1] He has a Diploma in Journalism Studies from Cardiff University, graduating in 1974.

Journalist career

Sebastian began his journalism career at Reuters in 1974, moving to the BBC as foreign correspondent in Warsaw in 1979. [9] He became BBC's Europe correspondent in 1982. At that time in 1983 in Wrocław, during Martial law in Poland, Tim Sebastian interviewed Kornel Morawiecki, the leader of the Polish anti-Soviet and anti-communist underground organization Fighting Solidarity, hiding from the Polish security service. [10]

Between 1984 and 1985 (until his expulsion from the USSR in 1985 [9] ) he was BBC's correspondent for Moscow in 1984 and then for Washington from 1986 to 1989. [11]

Sebastian has worked for The Mail on Sunday , and has contributed to The Sunday Times .

Television hosting

Notable Hard Talk interviews [12] with world leaders included US Presidents Bill Clinton [13] Donald Trump [14] and Jimmy Carter, [15] Archbishop Desmond Tutu, [16] Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, [17] and the last leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. [18] He currently hosts Conflict Zone, a one-on-one interview show on Deutsche Welle's international English-language channel.

Debate moderator

Sebastian is a frequent moderator of major conferences, seminars and forums across the globe.

He was the chairman of The Doha Debates , a Qatar Foundation programme that was broadcast monthly on BBC World News where it was the highest-rated weekend programme. The Debates were founded by Sebastian in 2004 and their fifth series began in September 2008.

Following the political and social unrest in Egypt and Tunisia in early 2011, Tim Sebastian founded The New Arab Debates, [19] which have been held in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan and were broadcast on Deutsche Welle English [20] as well as regional television channels. The debates are also held in Arabic and hosted by Egyptian TV presenter Mai El Sherbiny.


In 1982, Sebastian was awarded the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Richard Dimbleby Award and was named Television Journalist of the Year by the Royal Television Society. Additionally he has twice won the Royal Television Society's Interviewer of the Year Award for his HARDtalk interviews.

Personal life

His daughter is CNN journalist Clare Sebastian. [21] [22]




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  1. 1 2 3 "The man with all the questions". BBC. 4 July 2002. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  2. "Political interviews by Tim Sebastian & Michel Friedman | DW". DW.COM.
  3. Medien, Ahmed (21 October 2011), "Tim Sebastian Launches "New Arab Debates"", tunisia-live.net, Tunisia Live, archived from the original on 31 March 2016, retrieved 20 November 2011
  4. Mendenhall, Preston (22 February 2005), Another revolution in the land of Al-Jazeera, NBC News , retrieved 14 September 2011
  5. "A look ahead..." BBC. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  6. Mendenhall, Preston (25 August 2012), The Outsider, MSNBC
  7. "The Outsider website". Archived from the original on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  8. "Television Nominations 1981". BAFTA. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  9. 1 2 Shivdasani, Menka (17 April 2000), "Behind Those Interviews", Business Line, Madras, archived from the original on 5 October 2012, retrieved 14 September 2011
  10. Rymanowski, Bogdan (2022). Dopaść Morawieckiego. Życie doczesne i wieczne Kornela Buntownika (in Polish). Wrocław: Zysk i S-ka Wydawnictwo. p. 289. ISBN   9788382026986.
  11. Church, Michael (31 December 2002), "Tim Sebastian: 'It's not a social event'", The Independent, London, retrieved 14 September 2011[ dead link ]
  12. "Memorable interviews". Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  13. "Interview Bill Clinton". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  14. "Donald Trump, 1998 - BBC HARDtalk" via www.youtube.com.
  15. "Jimmy carter". BBC News. 12 December 2002.
  16. "Interview Archbishop Desmond Tutu". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  17. "Mr Lee Kuan Yew's interview with Mr Tim Sebastian on BBC HARDTalk". YouTube . Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  18. "Mikhail Gorbachev". BBC News. 30 September 2004.
  19. "A message from Tim Sebastian | the New Arab Debates". Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  20. "The New Arab Debates | DW". DW.COM.
  21. Clare minds her language – News Shopper, 28th March 2001
  22. Clare Sebastian profile