Nicky Campbell: who is broadcaster, does he have a wife - what did he say about abuse at Edinburgh school

The 61-year-old presenter has spoken out for the first time about being a victim of abuse

BBC broadcaster Nicky Campbell has claimed in the newest episode of his podcast, Different, that he was the victim of abuse whilst at the Edinburgh Academy, a Scottish private school, in the 1970s.

Campbell alleged that he had been “badly beaten up at school by a teacher” and that he had also witnessed his friends experience sexual abuse.

“This man was known to us all as a predator and a sadist but we never told anyone,” Campbell said.

This is everything you need to know.

Who is Nicky Campbell?

Campbell is a Scottish radio and TV presenter and journalist who is best known for hosting Long Lost Family on ITV since 2011.

He was born on 10 April 1961 in Edinburgh and, at four days old, was adopted by mother Sheila Campbell, a psychiatric social worker, and father Frank Campbell, who published maps.

Nicky Campbell attends the National Television Awards 2021 at The O2 Arena on September 09, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Writing about his adoption in a piece of the Daily Mail in 2021, Campbell wrote that “despite my wonderful family” he had a “lifelong whisper inside me: [his birth mother] didn’t want you, she gave you away”.

Campbell began tracing his birth parents in his 20s and, when he was 29, met his birth mother for the first time - Stella.

“[Stella] was two hours late, uncertain and fragile. I felt no emotional connection. I felt nothing,” Campbell wrote.

He attended the Edinburgh Academy before enrolling at the University of Aberdeen, where he graduated with a 2:1 in history.

Campbell began his career in radio at the London station Capital Radio, where he worked for a year from 1986 to 1987 before then joining BBC Radio 1 in 1987.

Nicky Campbell poses for a photo as he is inducted into the Radio Academy Arqiva Hall Of Fame at The Savoy Hotel on December 4, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

At BBC Radio 1, he presented a Saturday night show from 10pm to midnight and, the following year, he took over the reins of the weekend early morning show from Simon Mayo.

From 1988 to 1996, Campbell presented the UK version of Wheel of Fortune on ITV, and also hosted programmes like Top of the Pops, Central Weekend, Watchdog, Just the Two of Us, For the Rest of Your Life, The Big Questions, Your Money Their Tricks and Wanted: A Family of My Own.

He began co-presenting Long Lost Family with Davina McCall in 2011, which aims to reunite family members after years of being separated.

In 2004, Campbell released his book titled Blue Eyed Son which detailed his experiences with adoption.

Is he married?

Campbell has been married twice. He met his first wife, Linda Larnach, whilst working at a local radio station in Scotland.

Campbell told the Times: “I was in my early 20s and working in local radio in Aberdeen when I met my first wife, Linda.

“She was eight years older than me and divorced with two sons.

“Friends told me I was taking on too much, but the more they said that the more determined I was to defy them.

“Maybe I was looking for someone who could make sense of my world, but I thought I was in love.

“We were together for 13 years, and married for seven. When we finally parted, we didn’t so much divorce each other as the hell we created.”

The two married in 1988 and subsequently divorced in 1995, after Larnach claimed that the break Campbell took from his career to nurse her through a health scare had been a publicity stunt.

Campbell later married his second wife, journalist Tina Ritchie, in December 1997.

He and Ritchie have four daughters together.

What did he say about being a victim of abuse at school?

Speaking on an upcoming episode of his podcast Different on BBC Sounds, Campbell claimed that he was a victim of abuse at the Edinburgh Academy, a Scottish private school, during the 1970s.

The broadcaster, now 61, said that witnessing incidents of both sexual and physical abuse at the school had had a “profound effect on my life”.

During the episode he discusses his experiences with journalist Alex Renton, creator of the radio programme In Dark Corners, which explores abuse at Britain’s private schools.

TV presenter Nicky Campbell arrives at the UK Premiere of ‘Ice Age 2: The Meltdown’ at the Empire Leicester Square on April 2, 2006 in London, England. (Photo by David Westing/Getty Images)

Talking to BBC Radio 5 Live in an excerpt from an interview aired on Wednesday, Campbell said: “I was badly beaten up at school by a teacher who was a leading light in the scripture union.

“My mother took it as far as she could and got a grovelling apology from [the man involved], but was essentially stonewalled and it was hushed up by the school.

“Those were different times and that has stayed with me all my life.”

Campbell also discussed witnessing more serious sexual abuse, allegedly enacted on his school-mates at the hands of another man at the institution.

“I cannot describe it here and I can never un-see it,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“This man was known to us all as a predator and a sadist but we never told anyone.

Nicky Campbell arrives at the Sony Radio Awards honours the best in radio broadcasting talent at the Grosvenor House Hotel on April 30, 2007 in London. (Photo by Jo Hale for Getty Images)

“My school friends and I talk about it now with each other with again – contempt, disbelief and incomprehension that sort of thing happened in plain sight and nothing was done.

“And why didn’t we as little boys tell anyone in power what was happening? I don’t know.”

In the episode, it was revealed to Campbell by Renton that the alleged abuser is still alive. He is not being named for legal reasons.

Campbell said that the reason he has chosen to come forward is to bring the man in question to justice over the alleged abuse.

The podcast was released on Wednesday (28 July), and is available to listen to on the BBC Sounds website. All previous episodes are also available to listen to as well.

Has Edinburgh Academy responded?

In a statement provided to the BBC, Edinburgh Academy said it “deeply regrets” the alleged incidents and “wholeheartedly” apologised to those involved.

“We have worked closely with the relevant authorities including Police Scotland with their inquiries and would like to provide reassurance that things have dramatically changed since the 1970s,” the statement read.

“The Academy has robust measures in place to safeguard children at the school with child protection training now core to the ethos of the Academy.”