Jeremy Vine: 'My heart sinks now when I see an airport'

Jeremy Vine
Jeremy Vine wants to head to New Zealand when restrictions are lifted Credit: BBC/Graeme Hunter
The presenter on his fondness for Appledore and how Africa changed him

Travel became eye-opening when I was 24

That was when I started working for the BBC on the Today programme in 1989. I covered the start of the Yugoslav civil war, where you would land at an airport and just say: “Take me to the war.” Reporters were given so much autonomy then.

Going to the Middle East for work is something I will always be grateful for

It was an amazing thing to do in my 20s, in an era when they would just send you somewhere and worry about the budgeting later.

As the BBC’s Africa correspondent I went to 18 African countries

It had an incredible effect because with reporting you’re always thinking of the two words, “other lives”. The further away you get from the way you live yourself, the more interesting it is. Africa changed me because I realised that the world is far more complicated and unfair than I had ever imagined.

I filmed Eggheads, the quiz show, in Glasgow

It was a punishing routine of as many as 65 episodes in 14 days, shooting roughly four or five a day. We’d get one precious day off in the middle of this fortnight, and it was an incredible sensation to wake up with no shooting schedule.

Kelvingrove Gallery, Glasgow Credit: 2006 Getty Images/Jeff J Mitchell

There is a great painting by Salvador Dali in the Kelvingrove Gallery, one of the Eggheads told me

So I went along and then developed a habit of going to visit it every time I had the day off. I must have looked at that painting 20 or 30 times, I became a bit obsessed by it! It opened the world of art to me, which I hadn’t really known much about and which has inspired my novel.

Glasgow is my favourite city in the UK

But given that my co-presenter, Storm Huntley, is from Glasgow I’d never be forgiven if I said Edinburgh. In Glasgow, just ask the cab driver to take you to Ashton Lane. It is this little cobbled street and there’s a place called Brel, where I would eat every night if I could.

We are a divided family in terms of a perfect holiday

Because my wife wants to look at ruins, but I would be very happy with a book and a deckchair.  

Last month we went to Devon and stayed in beautiful Appledore

It’s one of my favourite places in the country. It’s also near Sidmouth, where my wife’s family is from. We mainly holiday as a family in Devon; my kids demand it. So I feel quite fortunate because I’ve failed to get them interested in skiing. They just want to have bad weather and pebbles on the beach.

The British beach scene has been transformed by the wetsuit

Because you can now go into the sea without being cold.

New Zealand is next on Jeremy Vine's travel list Credit: huafires

My first experience abroad was when I was 14 on a school ski trip in France 

I remember I spent a week trying and failing to ski. 

My kids are now teenagers but 10 years ago they were of the age where if you could go somewhere sunny and beachy for a holiday, it was good

So, instead of Devon, we did once or twice branch out – to Tunisia and Egypt. Those places are difficult now with young families just because of the terror dimension. I am the opposite of a reporter when I am going on holiday with my kids. I have become much less intrepid and a little bit cautious about that stuff.

One day, on one of the travel reports on Radio 2 it was announced that there was a traffic jam in Mellon Udrigle

I asked where that was and, if you look at a map, it is near Ullapool, in Scotland. Someone tweeted me later to say: “Oh, you’ve got to come here. It’s the most beautiful place”. And so the following summer, we went there for a week, and had the most wonderful experience.

Lockdown led to some strange discoveries

Including the fact that you can tour the National Gallery online – and you can even tour Japan online. None of that matches up to the real travel experience, of course, as there is no smell, taste or touch.

My heart sinks now when I see an airport

It just means hassle. I used to see an airport as the gateway to a wonderful experience. But it’s the brutality of having to do the airport on the last day as well as the first. The fact that we’re now getting into a situation where on the travel day, you have to spend a day going backwards and forwards if you include the packing and the unpacking and the hired car. I think people are now trying to do holidays without an airport.

I would like to go to New Zealand

I’ve never been to Mexico or any of those incredible countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Peru or Chile. I’ve seen deserts, but I’ve never really been to the Arctic or Antarctic. And that would include Alaska, northern Canada, and the really chilly bits of Russia.

Interview by Roz Lewis

The Diver and the Lover by Jeremy Vine (Coronet, £20: Hardback, ebook and audio) is out now. To book a live stream event with Jeremy,