Search

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

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.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 12:22
The Mayor of Haringey Cllr Jennifer Mann, signs Hornsey Pensioners Action group's Dignity Action Day petition  calling for Better Care Now! Photo: Nigel Sutton

Intrepid members of Hornsey Pensioners’ Action Group braved Storm Henry to call for the rights of elderly people as part of Dignity Action Day on February 1.

Yesterday, 12:00
The Highgate Society debated the economics of austerity with Vicky Pryce, and Ewen Stewart with students, Benedict Milner from Highgate School and Zelda Feldman from La Sainte Union School.

Vicky Pryce, the Greek-born economist who was jailed for perverting the course of justice, told an audience in Highgate last night that austerity is not the answer to the UK’s economic problems.

Yesterday, 08:08
Lynne Featherstone celebrates the release of her book Equal Ever After outoside the House of Lords. Photo: Polly Hancock

Lynne Featherstone, former MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, didn’t waste much time after losing her seat in the Lib Dem cull of last year’s general election.

Yesterday, 08:00
The Queen Mother opening the hospice

It is a national charity which traces its roots to Hampstead – and now it is appealing for new recruits in its hospice.

Fri, 18:29
Headteacher John Dowd spoke at the tribunal. Picture: Nigel Sutton

An employment tribunal has today rejected a former teaching assistant’s claims that she was discriminated against because of her disability.

Fri, 17:42
James Flanagan was jailed for the assault

A Kentish Town man has been jailed for a “sustained, cowardly and vicious” attack which left a top sports journalist in a coma.

Fri, 15:39
The proposed strike has been called off Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

A 48-hour Tube strike due to start tomorrow evening has been called off.

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe