Alastair Leithead is currently the BBC’s Africa Correspondent. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, he travels and reports widely across sub-Saharan Africa for the BBC’s TV, radio and digital outlets in the UK and around the world.
In 2018 Alastair produced the first Virtual Reality documentary for BBC News, taking viewers on a journey up the Blue Nile through Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to cover the story of the dam Ethiopia is building and its regional repercussions. The film won a number of awards including a Rose D’Or. His latest documentary Congo VR launched in December 2018.
Alastair focusses on big theme reporting such as Africa’s population growth and radicalisation and militarisation in the Sahara. He specialises in conservation issues, such as the connections between wildlife crime and corruption, international criminal syndicates and state capture. In 2017 he won a Foreign Press Association award for his long-read coverage of the Chibok girls’ release in Nigeria.
Prior to Africa Alastair was the US West Coast Correspondent, based in Los Angeles for four years, covering breaking news and features from across the US as well as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. He travelled from LA to report on the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, the war in Libya and to cover the super-typhoon in the Philippines for which he was nominated for a 2014 Emmy award.
From February 2009 to May 2011, Alastair was the BBC’s Asia Correspondent, living in Bangkok but reporting across East Asia. He travelled undercover in what was then Burma, reported on the violent standoff on the streets of Thailand, and was first on the scene in some of the small coastal towns worst hit by the Japanese tsunami.
Prior to Thailand, he lived in Afghanistan for two and a half years covering the resurgence of the Taliban and the NATO mission. In 2007 he won the Bayeux Television Award for war correspondents, and was shortlisted for a BAFTA in 2008 and a Royal Television Society Award in 2007.
Alastair lived in Miami in 2005/6, covering the southern States, and the worst hurricane season for many years. He arrived in New Orleans the day before Hurricane Katrina and reported from inside the city through the storm and its aftermath. He also worked in post-war Iraq, and was based in South Africa from late 2001, travelling extensively throughout the continent.
Alastair Leithead was brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne where he attended the Royal Grammar School, and received an honours degree in Geography from Manchester University. He began journalism on the regional newspaper the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. He quickly moved into broadcasting with the BBC on radio and regional TV and as a producer in London before becoming a foreign correspondent.