Accent on success at BBC

12:16, Mar 06 2009
Respected BBC presenter Lucy Hockings, centre, has her roots firmly in Taranaki. She's here with son George Breckenridge, left, 17 months, and nephew Ethan Mackie, 2.

She has been the voice of the BBC for world-changing events such as the Boxing Day tsunami, the death of Pope John Paul II and the capture of Saddam Hussein, but hardly anyone at home has heard of Kiwi girl Lucy Hockings.

A respected presenter for BBC World News, about 178 million viewers watch the Taranaki-born 34-year-old daily. She has scores of websites in the United Kingdom devoted to her "silky voice" and "big pretty eyes" and turns heads in her adopted city of London.

At home, however, she is still very much a 'Naki girl.

"I've just been on the tramp for an hour with my nephew and son in that Taranaki wind looking at the mountain, it doesn't get much better than that," Ms Hockings said from her family's farm.

She has been on home soil for the past month for her sister's wedding with son George, 17 months, and Canadian film-maker partner Jason Breckenridge.

In her other life, Ms Hockings spends her time living in a London apartment, interviewing prime ministers, trotting the globe and engulfing herself in world affairs


"Never did I dream I would be living this life," Ms Hockings said.

"I feel incredibly blessed. Sadly not many people can say they love their job."

Coming from Taranaki, and growing up under the mountain keeps the high-profile news junkie solid.

"It's a stable thing to come back to.

"I helped bale the hay with dad last night because of the rain ... It was all hands on deck, it feels good to be on the land. We don't have any access to anything like this in London."

And Ms Hockings intends to keep being Kiwi despite working for the most British of British media institutions, which once famously demanded a flutey BBC accent from presenters. Having lived in the UK for more than a decade, her accent has softened but she's proud of it, despite early attempts by her employers to have those vowels ironed out and complaints from viewers who were annoyed at "that young Australian girl reading the news!"

"When I started the accent was a huge problem and I was sent to the Royal Academy of Drama for speech lessons. They were unsuccessful. My accent is part of who I am and I work for an international broadcaster and it's a good reflection of the newsroom, which is very international."

With a change of management, the accents issue is now over and her nationality is seen as an asset, especially for All Blacks games and animal stories.

"Unfortunately the stories the BBC pick up from New Zealand are animal stories and sport, including that dog George ... but we have a bureau in Sydney and I'm always on hand to reflect the Pacific agenda."



Taranaki Daily News