Search

MY BELSIZE PARK: War correspondent producer Oggy Boytchev says Belsize keeps him calm

PUBLISHED: 11:00 31 August 2014

War correspondent Oggy Boytchev was the producer for BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson

War correspondent Oggy Boytchev was the producer for BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson

Archant

Oggy Boytchev, 59, has enjoyed a long career as a producer working with BBC war correspondent John Simpson. He is now a freelance journalist and TV producer.

What brought you to Belsize Park?

I have lived here for more than 12 years. Previously, I lived in Highgate. I chose Belsize Park because I had stayed at a friend’s house here in the early 1990s, a few years after my arrival in London. I liked it because it was tranquil, bohemian and very central (three stops to Bond Street on the Tube).

You have been to some of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world. What is it like returning to your home in Belsize afterwards?

After a stint in Baghdad, Kabul or Gaza, or after one of our undercover missions in Zimbabwe, my adrenalin levels were so high that I used to wake up very early in the morning not knowing where I was, expecting to hear gunfire or the proverbial ‘knock on the door’.

But my anxieties were quickly assuaged by the dawn chorus from the surrounding gardens. My road is so quiet that it’s like being in the countryside.

If you were guest editor of the Ham&High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?

HS2. I know the Ham&High has a regular rubric on this topic. People are instinctively against it because of the medium-term disruption to their lives. But is there a local case in favour of it? Are there any long-term local benefits beyond the usual ‘we need an infrastructure fit for the 21st century’? How would HS2 change Belsize architecturally? Would it in effect make it part of central London?

You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area. What do you do?

Workout at my local gym, Springhealth in Belsize Park Gardens. Light lunch in Belsize Crescent. A bookshop ‘crawl’, starting from Daunt Books in Haverstock Hill, followed by it’s sister shop in South End Green, Waterstones in Hampstead High Street, ending up in the second-hand bookshop in Flask Walk, in the heart of Hampstead Village. Coffee break, then a long walk through Hampstead Heath to Highgate and back. And perhaps a film at the Everyman (formerly Screen on the Hill) in the evening.

What would you say is the area’s best kept secret?

The home-made burger and chips at The Wells Tavern in Well Walk where I am a regular, especially on a Friday night.

If you could twin Belsize with anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

Greenwich Village in Manhattan - cosmopolitan, liberal and very central.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

John Simpson and I have often joked about epitaphs. It kept us sane in the face of utmost danger during our assignments. I would like to paraphrase W.C Fielding’s epitaph ‘I’d rather be in Philadelphia’ to read: ‘All things considered, I’d rather be in Belsize Park’.

Oggy Boytchev was in conversation with Paul Wright.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

18:04

A woman is in hospital following a collision on a busy high street.

15:37

It’s not every day shoppers spy Hollywood A-listers racing out of their supermarkets with panic etched across their faces.

14:59

A man has been found guilty of robbing an 87-year-old artist who was left fighting for her life after the attack in her Camden home.

14:51

A family has paid tribute to a “kind and gentle man” who has died after his clothes mysteriously caught alight while he was out for an afternoon walk.

14:14

An amateur photographer from Haringey is in the running to win a photography competition.

13:36

Haringey is “guaranteed” one 24 hour police station under proposals which could see the service’s Hornsey base close.

12:51

A 19 year old from Camden has spent 12 weeks volunteering in one of the poorest communities in Nicaragua.

10:22

Residents’ views are being sought on how to improve green spaces in places threatened by the high speed two rail development.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Japanese baby and children’s clothing company Familiar is making their first venture into Europe with a pop up event in Hampstead

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now