In Science and Space: Laura Kuenssberg is feeling the cold. It’s why she always kept a “nice cardie” on the back of her office chair during her tenure as the BBC’s politics editor, for those rare periods of stillness when she wasn’t reporting live from outside Downing Street, or racing to a hastily convened press conference, or trading titbits with other lobby hacks in Portcullis House, or interrogating a cabinet minister while being simultaneously flayed on social media, or checking in with the Today programme team on her drive home in the dark.
“Everybody who does this is to some extent a news junkie,” she admits, unfastening her silver watch and placing it next to her phone on the table between us. She is about to take the helm of the BBC’s flagship Sunday morning politics show, hosted for the past 17 years by Andrew Marr, but is yet to shake the reporter’s habit of twitchy clock-watching. “Addicted is the wrong word, but you do get used to being at the centre of things.” And yet, the 46-year-old is adamant to be kept out of the spotlight herself. A 2019 profile in The Times to promote her Brexit documentary aside, the Kuenssberg cuttings pile is almost non-existent. Everywhere and nowhere, she has fixed herself in the zeitgeist as the unknowable frontwoman of history’s first draft.
For those seven years, Laura would be up and firing on all cylinders by 6:30am most mornings, “reading the headlines, touching base with people in government, talking to the opposition, talking to contacts, talking to my team”, she says in her familiar Glaswegian accent. It was often after 11pm by the time she got home, later still during the most intense periods of Brexit, when she remembers waking up and “wondering if there would be a government by the end of the day”.