Saturday Q&A: UTV Political Editor Ken Reid on 'avoiding' the news, becoming a Twitter sensation and outside broadcasting from his garden in Ballymena

Veteran journalist Ken Reid (65), whose scoops include the retirement of the late Ian Paisley, will retire as UTV's Political Editor in March

Ken Reid has announced his retirement as UTV's Political Editor
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

TO DO the job I've been doing for so long, I think you have to be a news junkie. We live in a 24/7 news world, but during the Covid era it's been overwhelming and I have found myself avoiding it.

The first thing I do on Saturday is...

... head to Ballymena market to buy fish. Fish is my favourite and we all cook in the family. I'm normally very involved with Ballymena Rugby Club and would walk the dogs – Lola, a pedigree black Labrador, and Prince, a rescue dog (we're not sure what he is yet) – before heading there.

I now have 53,000 Twitter followers. Although it has a good side, there's also a lot of nastiness. I like a glass of good wine: red or white, it just has to be good.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

I was brought up in north Belfast and would watch Cliftonville FC on Saturdays. My father died in a crash when I was 18 months old, I grew up with my relations and was close to my late cousin, Graeme.

I went to Hull University when Philip Larkin was librarian. If your book was late, he reminded you and you got his autograph. I was always interested in blues and remember going to concerts at weekends. When I came home, I was a sports reporter on the Sunday News and Saturday was a working day.

Friday night or Saturday night?

Although I like the Friday night feeling of finishing work, then having a few drinks, I think Saturday night.

Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show?

I like Kate Adie's From Our Own Correspondent, also Brendan O'Connor on RTE and The Week in Westminster.

Must-watch weekend TV show/box set?

I've enjoyed the Scandinavian drama, Occupied. But I like Match of The Day, Michael Portillo on Trains and Have I Got News for You.

A favourite eatery – or is it a takeaway?

The Pipe and Glass in East Yorkshire, near Beverly. It's a happy place, but the choice in Belfast is great. Takeaway would be good fish and chips.

Is Sunday still special?

Very much so. My daughter and her husband are in our bubble and are our only visitors. We'd have a roast, which we all love, at Sunday tea-time. And I am a very occasional visitor to the Church of Ireland.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I tend to switch on, as I would often have been on the first flight out to London on Monday. But I've been fortunate, as many key political events took place here in Northern Ireland. It's been quite a journey. I've kept notes and wouldn't rule out some sort of film memoir.

I have leukaemia and have been shielding but have done outside broadcasts from the garden. One OB, after one of Johnson's awful press conferences, was seen by about five million. They went to Edinburgh, Cardiff – and then Ballymena.

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