BBC reporter reveals charity exhibition with a little help from his friends

On Thursday evening, award winning BBC journalist Eddie Botsio opened the doors of the Reading Room gallery in Soho to his famous friends. The exhibition ‘In and Out of the Public Eye’ features a range of photographic portraits from the likes of The Apprentice’s Nick Hewer to presenter Bill Turnbull, as well as a number of Eddie’s BBC colleagues who are more used to life behind the lens. A trustee of charity Raleigh International, he has set up this latest project in order to help people get involved with their work in spite of financial and social barriers.

Pat Younge, the BBC’s Chief Creative Officer for Vision Productions (behind the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Eastenders) said of the exhibition: “He’s photographed a lot of people I know, here, but captured them in a really interesting way. I think he might be a better photographer than journalist!”

Another of Eddie’s photos features Tony Ageh, BBC Controller of Archive Development. Describing the collection as “fantastic,” he, like Pat, was happy to pose not only for a friend but for a worthy cause. He also praised Eddie’s ability to make Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, look comfortable and relaxed in his shot. “The whole thing is fantastic,” he added.

You can see the images taken by Eddie at www.readingroom.com/gallery/CurrentExhibition.aspx where you can also donate to the cause or buy any of the portraits or photo book. Holby City actor Hugh Quarshie summed up the exhibition by saying: “I think it’s really enterprising – he’s obviously got a great eye and I love the diversity of the images. I really applaud him.”

Here is what the man behind the lens had to say about his latest project…

How do you think the exhibition has turned out?

Well everyone seems to like it, I just spoke to an old friend of mine and he said it’s a really feel good project and that’s really good, I’m glad he felt that. I called up some people I’ve known for years, lots of well-known people have turned up and it’s really good. I’ve actually really enjoyed this evening.

Do you think that is the secret for achieving these relaxed images?

I hope so – I’m not sure. A lot of them are people I’ve worked with, often, because of working in news journalism, in stressful situations. And so even when I emailed them when we hadn’t been in touch for years, I suppose there’s a bit of trust there already, and I suppose that’s enabled them to relax really, because they’re being photographed by someone they know and we have that bit of common ground.

How did the idea for the exhibition come about?

Well it started out very differently, with somebody suggesting I photograph the people at the BBC who were leaving. The BBC was at one of those turbulent times and a lot had changed, so I thought I’d try and capture those people before they disappeared. That kind of proved too much of a challenge, but at that point the project took on a life of its own, with people like Nick Hewer coming forward and saying look, can I help. And so it just kind of took off from there – it started off as one thing and ended as another.

What are your favourite images in the collection?

One of my favourites is of Trevor Nelson. I like the one of Jane Hill, we had a lot of fun doing that. I like the one of my cousin, Hugh Quarshie because that took me 6 months to get it. Ana Aruja…I suppose I’ve been living with these for six months so it’s difficult to choose!

What made you want to do this for Raleigh International?

Well I’ve been a trustee of Raleigh for five, six years now, and when I joined it was in a difficult place. One of the things I wanted to do was to broaden the people who could benefit from Raleigh, and the charity has really got itself back on its feet.

 You can see Eddie’s exhibition until 30th September at the Reading Room, 65-66 Frith Street, London

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