Angela Frier MBE

Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Angela Frier for the award of an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University. 

Angela Frier has spent the last 25 years working for news provider ITN, starting as a temp in 1980 and becoming Managing Director of ITN International in 2004.  

As foreign affairs producer she became a key figure in ITN News, covering most of the major global news stories of the past two decades, and often finding herself in war zones. By way of contrast, but in some ways no less challenging, she produced the Queen's Christmas Broadcast in 2005 and will do so again later this year.  

Angela Frier was born along with her identical twin Moira, in 1953 in Pembury, Kent, and was brought up on a tied cottage on a farm tenanted by her grandfather. Despite the financial struggles for a family of modest means in the 1950s, Angela has memories of a happy and grounded childhood. Leaving school at 16, she qualified as a secretary and soon headed for France, first working as an au pair and then as a secretary for a variety of international organisations throughout the 1970s, apart, that is, from a memorable two-year interlude in South America.  

In 1974, and quite by chance, Angela met John Surtees, head of the Surtees Racing Organisation and former World Champion at both motorcycle and Grand Prix car racing. Ever adventurous, she took up his invitation to travel to Brazil with the Surtees Team later that year. During her time in Rio, she found work as a typist at the British Consulate General, danced with the Samba School and participated in the Rio Carnival.  

After a brief spell in Australia in 1979, Angela returned to the UK and joined ITN in 1980, helping out in various departments. She worked on the Foreign Desk and on the Channel 4 News Desk from the launch in 1982. Soon a producer of foreign news, Angela has since covered countless stories from around the world, including both Gulf wars.   

In the lead-up to the first Gulf War, and in the face of stiff competition from John Simpson and the BBC, Angela managed to secure the only British TV interview with Saddam Hussein - a ground-breaking interview conducted by Trevor MacDonald in 1990. When the war started the following year, she was the producer in Baghdad with the ITN team which included her husband, Phil Bye, a cameraman (here to share in the proud occasion). For the first time in history, journalists were reporting live from an enemy capital under fire. 

In February 1991, two American smart bombs hit the roof of a building in the middle-class suburb of Al-Amariya. The building was being used as a bomb shelter by a large number of women and children, and there were many casualties. In the face of American claims that the building was a legitimate military target, the reporters were able to offer first-hand accounts of the devastating damage and loss of civilian lives. Angela was at the heart of the reporting: directing cameramen, checking and re-checking the scene of the bombing, and editing the ITN reports.

She also has the distinction of being the only foreign news journalist in Baghdad when the US sent in cruise missiles between the wars. Other stories covered by Angela include:  

  • The entire war in Bosnia 
  • Civil wars in Angola and Rwanda
  • The Earth Summit in Brazil
  • The release of Nelson Mandela
  • The first elections in South Africa
  • The handover of Hong Kong to China
  • The death of Diana  

More recently she organised the first news team into the Darfur region of Western Sudan where the Sudanese government and its militias are engaged in a genocidal campaign against the black Sudanese population. The news reports have prompted millions of pounds in donations from around the world.  

With such extensive and telling experience of international news production, it was not surprising that Angela Frier became Managing Director of ITN International in July 2004. She is responsible among other things for ITN's relationships with international broadcasters.  Her high profile in the world of international news has been recognised in various ways.  

For example through:- 

  • Adjudicating in the Royal Television Society and Monte Carlo TV Festival Awards
  • For 10 years, she has been Vice-chair of the European Broadcasting Union News group
  • And in 1995, she received an MBE for outstanding service to television news  

Angela Frier's spirit of adventure, unflappability and can-do approach to everything she encounters has served her well in what so far has been  an outstanding career. She is indeed a worthy recipient of an award from this university.   

Thus I have pleasure in presenting Angela Frier MBE, this most distinguished person, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.