Lyse Doucet is a BBC presenter with a long career history, having been involved in reporting on all major Middle Eastern wars since 1990, she is deservedly the Chief International Correspondent.
Her Twitter bio says: “Canada is my country, London is my city, but am at home in many places,” and she is one of the front-line faces of the Ukraine-Russia war, currently stationed in Kyiv with broadcaster Clive Myrie and the BBC news crew. Here we take a look at the life and work of Lyse Doucet.
Where is she from?
Lyse was born in Bathurst, New Brunswick on the East Coast of Canada on Christmas Eve, 1958. She told Radio Presenter Lauren Laverne on a recent BBC Radio Four Desert Island Discs episode: “I grew up in a very strong family, three boys and three girls. This is what has anchored me and allowed me to go far away.”
Her background is a mix of cultures including Irish and also Acadian on her father’s side. Acadians are the ancestors of present-day Cajuns.
Originally from the West Central part of France, they were peasants recruited as part of France’s efforts to colonise Canada and settled in areas like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Though her family doesn’t speak French Lyse says: “I’ve learned French as it’s part of who I am.”
Read more:BBC News’ Clive Myrie: His wife, children and why he won’t leave Ukraine
Lyse often gets asked about her accent, which can be hard to place, and once even had to explain it live on air. She said in an interview: “I was taking listeners questions and afterwards I got letters from Acadians around the world saying: ‘Lyse, you’re the Celine Dion of broadcasting’ which was a bit far fetched.”
Is Lyse Doucet married on in a relationship?
It is thought that Lyse Doucet is not currently married or in a relationship and she keeps her personal life private. She’s previously described herself as having a nomadic lifestyle and, in an interview for BBC Radio 4, was asked whether she’s made sacrifices in her personal life as a result?
She said: “I think it’s important not to live with regret. Along the way there have been choices and relationships that didn’t work out and life took different turns. It’s worked out in a way that I’m happy with. I live constantly bathed in gratitude.”
It is not commonly known whether Lyse Doucet has any children.
On Desert Island Discs she said: “Sometimes countries cross our paths, and then our paths become the same,” referring to the huge amount of her life she’s spent covering the news from Africa and the Middle East. From 1983 to 1988, she worked in West Africa for the Canadian media, and for the BBC, and has covered all major wars in the Middle East since the mid-1990s.
Doucet has been a frequent visitor to Pakistan and Afghanistan since the late 1980s. She was the BBC correspondent in Islamabad from 1989 to 1993 and 1994 she opened the BBC office in Amman, Jordan. From 1995 to 1999, she was based in Jerusalem, travelling across the Middle East.
In 1999, she joined the BBC’s team of presenters but continues to report from the field. Her work also focuses on the aftermath of major natural disasters, including the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
She’s made many special programmes and documentaries including Children of Syria in 2014, with film-maker Robin Barnwell, which was nominated in the Best Single Documentary category at the 2015 BAFTA Awards.
She can currently be found in Kyiv reporting on the Ukrainian-Russian war.
Getting caught up in the assassination attempt of former President Karzai
During the time she spent living in Afghanistan, Lyse became personal friends with Mohammed Karzai, the former president of the country. In 2002, she found herself caught up in an assassination attempt on him at a family wedding when Lyse recalls two men approaching the president, one to pay his respects but the other to open fire.
Three people were killed in the incident: the gunman, one of the President’s bodyguards and a bystander who knocked down the gunman. In an interview Lyse recalls the incident saying: “The BBC called and urgently checked if I was wearing my flack-jacket and body armour and I said ‘no’. I was at a wedding. It reminded me that sometimes risks happen when you least expect.”
Awards and recognition
Lyse has won numerous awards for her work. In 2014 she was awarded an OBE for services to British broadcast journalism and was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in December 2018.