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BBC presenter Mishal Husain, opens up on her self-doubt

BBC presenter Mishal Husain has opened up about her crippling self-doubt and said it took her three years to ease into her new role.

Miss Husain, who began presenting Radio 4’s Today programme in 2013, said she still occasionally feels she is not cut out for the job.

Speaking at an event to promote her book, The Skills, a manual-cum-memoir which encourages women to make their ambitions a reality, the mother of three said her husband pushed her to go for the job.

Mishal Husain said it took her three years to ease into her new role, she began presenting Radio 4’s Today programme in 2013

She said: ‘It [the book] is inextricably linked joining the Today programme and having a completely different sense of myself as a woman in the workplace that I hadn’t had before.

‘Largely because so much of the focus surrounding me joining the programme was about there being a second woman in that line-up of presenters.

‘It gave me a different sense of what it is to be a woman in the professional world today. Obviously that’s been a feature of my life throughout, but somehow I started to think about it in a different way.’ She added: ‘Another reason the Today programme led to this book is it’s the hardest job I’ve ever done, and it’s a job I really didn’t, at first, want to do, and didn’t want to put myself in the running for.

‘It was my husband who right at the beginning said to me, ‘you can’t not go for something because it’s too hard. If one of our children said to you – I’m not going to do that because it’s going to be too hard, you’d never put up with that’.

‘And it’s true. So when he put it that way I thought, right, I’m going to have to go for it.’ Despite getting the coveted job, the broadcaster said it took three years to start feeling at ease.

She said: ‘It took me three years to feel, and I’m not going to use the word comfortable, but more at ease in that job, and I just started to think about all the things that made a difference to me in that three years. And I really wanted to share them.’ Speaking about experiencing uncomfortable moments while live on air during that time she said: ‘In fact, I still have many uncomfortable moments, and times when I come off air and think – I’m not cut out for this job!

Miss Husain has worked on various programmes, including the documentary 'How Facebook Changed The World'

Miss Husain has worked on various programmes, including the documentary ‘How Facebook Changed The World’

‘I think it took me three years to have the experience under my belt to deal with the things that went wrong with more equanimity. That’s the only way I’m going to describe it.’ Miss Husain, who earns between £220,000 – £2229,999 a year at the BBC, lived in the Middle East between the ages of two and twelve and went on to study law at Cambridge University.

The star, who won the Broadcaster of the Year Award at the London Press Club Awards in 2015 and is the first Muslim presenter of the Today programme, said the fact that she worked at a public service broadcaster makes the level of scrutiny ‘intense’.

She said: ‘I’m in a very privileged position, where I can question the powerful, and have an audience in the millions, and that’s an extraordinary position to be in.

Mishal also read the news for BBC World when she was just 30-years-old

Mishal also read the news for BBC World when she was just 30-years-old

‘But it just means that that level of scrutiny is very intense. I couldn’t point at anything in particular, but it still happens even now, that a night before an early shift I think, what am I going to find on my desk in the morning, and trying to anticipate.

‘And now I’ve learned that whatever’s there, I’m going to deal with it at the point I see it, and whatever’s there, I’ll gain nothing from worrying about it, apart from not getting enough sleep, which is a much more risky path to go down. And then I might make more mistakes!

‘It took me three years to be able to deal with the ups and downs in a more measured way. If I’d have stopped at any point in that three years, I’d have looked back and thought, I never really felt quite at ease in that job, and thought it was about me. Whereas now I can look back and think, I never felt at ease during those three years because it’s a hard job to do.

‘Often we think it’s about us. But it’s because we’re putting ourselves out there and doing something difficult and that’s not going to come easy.’