'I turned down the BBC for making me feel like I'd be their token black presenter', says veteran ITV broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald

Sir Trevor McDonald said BBC admitted his job offer was to fill a diversity quotaIn 1973, he began his career at ITN as the network's first black reporterHe admitted despite warzone reporting, he is 'the biggest coward imaginable' 

Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald has revealed he chose to work for ITV over the BBC because the network did not make him feel like a 'token black' presenter.

The 84-year-old who has interviewed the likes Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussain said he turned down a job offer from the BBC after they admitted it was to fill a diversity quota.

Sir McDonald said: 'ITN, very importantly, at no point showed any evidence I was taken on as the token black [presenter].'

In 1973, he began his celebrated career at ITN as the network's first black reporter and became the sole presenter of ITV's News at Ten until he retired in 2008.

The Trinidad-British newsreader was approached very early in his career for a job at the BBC but he told Saga Magazine: 'They said: 'We've come under pressure by the Race Relations Board to hire more black reporters.'

Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald has revealed he chose to work for ITV over the BBC because the network did not make him feel like a 'token black' presenter

Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald has revealed he chose to work for ITV over the BBC because the network did not make him feel like a 'token black' presenter

'I wanted to get through on merit, not because I was black.'

The father-of-three was propositioned by a BBC producer over white wine and smoked salmon sandwiches and recalled: 'I thought all my ships were coming in at once.'

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But after he realised the network was purely conducting a box ticking exercise, he turned them down, telling the Johnathan Ross show in 2019, 'I thought he [the producer] had heard about my reputation in Trinidad as a television newsreader and he then disclosed that he'd never heard of Trinidad and Tabago television in any way, shape or form.

'The smoked salmon suddenly stuck in my throat and the white wine tasted not as nice as it had done before.

'So I made my excuses and left. I turned down the job.'

From interviewing Tony Blair to Colonel Gaddafi, Sir Trevor went on to become one of the most recognisable faces in television history and was knighted in 1999 for his services to journalism.

And despite having reported from warzones, across the globe he revealed to Saga Magazine, 'As my mother would tell you, I'm the biggest coward imaginable.'

To avoid becoming 'the token black man' at ITN, he requested to cover the Troubles in 1973 Belfast, because 'I wanted to do what everyone else was.'

Sir Trevor, who has interviewed the likes Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussain said he turned down a job offer from the BBC after they admitted it was to fill a diversity quota

Sir Trevor, who has interviewed the likes Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Saddam Hussain said he turned down a job offer from the BBC after they admitted it was to fill a diversity quota

But he said: 'When things got rough in the street, I'd always use the pretext, 'I'm going to find a house where there's a phone and call the office.'

'There were no mobile phones then, but the truth was I couldn't stand the noise. If I heard a shot, I'd run like hell.'

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