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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Sky’s the limit for Newton born Sky News anchor Stephen Dixon

STEPHEN Dixon is one of Sky News’ main men, reading the channel’s News at Ten bulletin. KARL STEEL speaks to the Newton-born presenter about his thoughts on the area and his career to date.

WHILE Hairy Biker Dave Myers is Furness’ most recognisable television personality, there is only one local face seen by millions of people around the world week in, week out.

As one of the main anchors on the Sky News channel, Stephen Dixon fronts News at Ten every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.

His show is available to 145 million people in 36 countries in Europe alone, as well as Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

“It’s a very high-pressure job, because we want to be the first to get the news out there,” says the 37-year-old Newton-born presenter.

“We have to get everything right in terms of content and presentation, and I feel the pressure because I’m fronting it all, but everyone who works on the show works under that pressure all the time.”

Growing up in Newton – where his family is still based – and during his time as a pupil at Dowdales and Barrow Sixth Form College, he always had designs on a media job.

But little did he know that he would end up as a figurehead for Britain’s most established rolling news channel.

Stephen says: “I always wanted to get into the media in some form or another. News was a big interest to me, but I never really thought about being a presenter. This industry leads you as much as you try to lead it, and I ended up working for ITN, doing all sorts of jobs on Channel Five news.

“I came here to Sky as a presenter, where I mainly present the News at Ten, which is a full round-up of what’s gone on in the world that day, and a look ahead to what’s in the next day’s newspapers.

“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into each show – a team of producers work on the content, and you have assistant editors and the head of news working throughout the day.

“I come in and try to assess what’s likely to break while we’re on air, and do all the preparation I can for live interviews.

“The great thing about this channel is the huge developments. Later this month we’ll be broadcasting the Royal Wedding in full HD, and we’ve just launched an iPad app that lets you develop the news for yourself.

“As a big technology freak, I find all of these things hugely exciting.”

During his 11 years at Sky News Stephen has, naturally, been responsible for breaking the news of some major national and international events.

He was the first person in the world to announce the London terrorist attacks in July 2005, and also broke the news of the capture of Saddam Hussein.

He admits that when he’s dealing with major worldwide events, it can be easy to miss the news from back home in Cumbria.

“With what’s been happening internationally of late, I don’t always see everything that happens back home,” he says. “But I do try and keep up to date and my mum always tells me everything, anyway. I’m also good friends with John Woodcock, and while I don’t always agree with everything he says, he’s a really great guy and he seems to be doing the right things for Barrow.”

Away from news and current affairs, Stephen is also a spokesman for Diabetes UK.

Aged 17, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and it is something that is always in the back of his mind.

He says: “It’s not just a day to day thing, it’s minute-to-minute.

“You have got to get a balance between carbohydrates and insulin, and I monitor it by checking my blood glucose around 10 times a day. It’s not something you can ever forget about, and it’s a key part of my life.”

Recently he moved away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city and out into the countryside – a little reminder of the comforts of home.

He tries to visit whenever he can to see his family, especially his nephew, Thomas, and niece, Isobel, who he is particularly close to.

“I do get back quite regularly because all my family still live in the area,” he says.

“My niece and nephew are really important to me, so I try and visit as often as I can.

“Newton is a great place that’s changed a bit over the years, but it’s still quiet and friendly. Dalton’s improved and there’s a few more shops now. It was a great place to live and grow up.

“Now that I live away, I think I appreciate it more. I moved out of London recently to Buckinghamshire, because it’s a little bit like where I grew up.

“As you get older, you crave a little for how things were.”

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