Former Hackney Gazette reporter Des Burkinshaw on his life with the stars

PUBLISHED: 17:52 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:52 25 April 2017

Des Burkinshaw with the Spice Girls

Des Burkinshaw with the Spice Girls

Des Burkinshaw

Emma Bartholomew meets ex-Gazette reporter Des Burkinshaw, who was once loosely credited with bringing down the Tory government

Des Burkinshaw playing piano with Paul McCartney Des Burkinshaw playing piano with Paul McCartney

Des Burkinshaw credits working at the Hackney Gazette as “the three most interesting years of my working life”.

He’d only been there three months and he broke the story of Tory minister Tim Yeo having an affair with Hackney councillor Julia Stent, who he got pregnant. 
Des said: “The editor at the time was too scared to run it as a story, so he said to go to the News of the World and get them to break it, and that we could run it afterwards – which we did.”

The story broke on Boxing Day 1992, and by 1994 Yeo – who had courted votes in Hackney on a “family values” ticket three years earlier – resigned.

“I got headhunted and ended up at The Times, where they used to call me ‘the man that brought down the government’,” said Des, who managed to pay for the deposit on his first flat with the £10,000 he was paid for the story.

Des Burkinshaw with Nancy Sinatra Des Burkinshaw with Nancy Sinatra

He didn’t hang around long; he went into showbiz reporting and then TV producing. Over the years he’s worked with too many celebrities to mention, including Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Michael Caine and David Bowie.

A keen musician, writing and producing for his band The Ghostorchestra, has twisted the arm of a few of his interviewees over the years into jamming with him.

He’s played piano alongside Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson in their homes, and remembers playing A Whiter Shade of Pale with Procol Harum at the BBC in Maida Vale.

“I met a lot of my heroes. After eight years of doing network TV I thought I’d done everything,” he said.

Des Burkinshaw with Michael Palin Des Burkinshaw with Michael Palin

These days he runs a production company with his wife Shazna at their home in Roding Road, Lower Clapton.

They met on Top of the Pops and have a daughter Nazia.

They’ve just started an after-school and holiday club for nine- to 15-year-olds, the Young Directors Film School.

“I still think of myself as Des on the council estates,” he said. “It’s bizarre when Nancy Sinatra rings up and asks if you want to come for a curry.

Des Burkinshaw with Sheryl Crow Des Burkinshaw with Sheryl Crow

“It’s been a bit crazy – it still is, really. I really thank the Gazette for it – you couldn’t have a better start.

“Hackney is the most interesting place on the planet, and if you start there you are bound to do well.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

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

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette 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 Hackney Gazette 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 Hackney Gazette 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 Hackney Stories

Brisbane Road outfit lost again in the National League and their Swindon Town loanee knows it isn’t good enough


Clapton assistant manager Wayne Seal is disappointed to see his side crash out of the FA Vase with a 3-2 defeat to London Lions.

NFC West: Arizona Cardinals 0 Los Angeles Rams 33


Police are appealing for information after a cyclist suffered life threatening injuries in Clapton this afternoon.


Spurs forward delighted to put on a show in front of some sporting legends and aiming to be alongside them one day


A man has been charged in connection with a serious assault in City Road that left a man unconscious and a woman with a broken nose.

Ex-Crewe Alexandra boss calls on team to lift it by 50 per cent if they want to start moving up the table

A 10-day music and community festival headlined by The National and The xx – and starring 200 other acts – will replace Lovebox and Field Day in Victoria Park next year.

Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists