Do not adjust your set: BBC presenter wearing a kippah!

Jonathan Josephs said he was 'proud' to represent the Jewish community's diversity


It was a classic tale of sudden showbiz stardom, as a behind-the-scenes producer had to step in front of the camera at the last minute.

But when Jonathan Josephs made his on-screen debut, it was also a landmark moment for the Jewish community, as he became the first BBC presenter to have ever worn a kippah.

The regular shul-goer from north London was thrown into the deep end on New Year’s Eve on the BBC World News channel, when the usual presenter of World Business Report went home sick.

Mr Josephs, 38, told the JC it was only afterwards that he realised it had been a historic first. He said: “It isn’t something I thought about. I wear a kippah at work. Presenting the programme with it on was just an extension of that.”

He added: “I do feel proud. It’s right that there is that representation on the BBC. It shows the Jewish community is diverse and we do different things.”

His presenting debut comes as the BBC faces a storm of criticism from the Jewish community, particularly over the reporting of an antisemitic attack on teenagers on a Chanukah bus outing on Oxford Street.

But Mr Josephs said he has never felt any need to hide his Jewish identity in the 15 years he has been working at the BBC since leaving university.

He said: “I’ve been able to keep shabbat with no problem working here over the last 15 years. The BBC is a place full of diversity and I am happy to be part of that.”

Mr Josephs added: “The Jewish community contributes positively to society and we should be represented in the public arena.”

Shortly after his New Year’s Eve debut, Mr Josephs posted online: “It wasn’t in the plan when I woke up for the day, it didn’t run as smoothly as I might have hoped, but it was a great chance to seize an opportunity and wouldn’t have happened without a great team behind the scenes.”

Explaining how his experience had prepared him to present, he said: “As the producer, it is my job to shape the show. So I was lucky in that I knew what was happening and what was coming up, and I had written large parts of the script that I had to read off the autocue.

“I’d done some live reporting before but never presenting. I had to go and have my make-up done, which was unusual, and make sure I was in the right place at the right time.”
He was most concerned about “not messing it up”, he added.

“I just tried to concentrate on the director who was in my ear and follow any instructions and information I was given. I think it went well. It is a proud achievement.”

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