Sergeant majors in photography; John Sergeant tells Lisa Williams why he's presenting a new show about photography.
Byline: Lisa Williamswhy
JOHN SERGEANT is flicking excitedly through the book that accompanies his latest television series, showing off photos that now, I point out, make him a published photographer.
"I know," he says, a little bemused. "The photographer John Sergeant."
Although the words don't fall naturally from his lips, he admits to being glad he's no longer "typecast as a political correspondent".
"I thought that was quite irritating," says the 67-year-old, whose career outside of Westminster has included stints on The One Show, comedy debate show Argumental, and - most famously - Strictly Come Dancing.
Although primarily known for his many political broadcasts - including the infamous time he was manhandled out the way by Lady Thatcher's press adviser Sir Bernard Ingham on camera in 1990 - John, a former ECHO journalist, has always seen himself as an all-rounder.
"It's an old television joke but it's a good one - I like to be a moving target because it's harder for them to hit you," he explains. His broad interests meant he was initially rejected by the BBC when he first applied to be a trainee.
"The application form said, 'What are your interests?' And I said I'd like to work in all the major departments. And of course they didn't even interview me! And what have I done all these years later? Apart from sport, I've worked in all major departments," he says, grinning widely.
In his latest outing for the BBC John follows in the tracks of pioneering Victorian photographer Francis Frith who, having made a fortune in the grocery business, set about capturing on film the most interesting places around the country.
Donning a trilby hat, John visited the sites, including Liverpool, made famous by Frith's photographs, and took his own versions of the snaps with a digital camera.
He hadn't heard of Frith before the series and admits: "I have to say when I was first asked about this I thought, 'How boring!' "But everyone else seemed to think it was a good idea and, as the days went on, I thought, 'Actually this is not just rather good, this is brilliant'."
? Britain's First Photo Album, BBC Two, Monday, 6.30pm
THE CAT IN THE HAT: John Sergeant at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire and, right, at a brewery in Hampshire with owner Nigel Welsh