June 26, 2018, by Liz Cass
Nottingham graduate to present African version of CBBC
Ben Hunte will front What’s New? – a weekly programme from the BBC for 11-16-year-olds.
The programme is the first BBC children’s TV programme made for the African continent. It will feature stories behind the headlines, a weekly interview with a celebrity or someone making the news in Africa, and young people talking about their own stories and lives.
Ben, who is 26 and lives in London, studied neuroscience under a scholarship at the University of Nottingham Malaysia where he quickly got involved in University life. As Student Union President he embraced his love of presenting by setting up a weekly university news programme on YouTube. This was alongside his stint as editor of the campus magazine and while he also ran a student events agency.
He said: “I chose to study neuroscience because I genuinely wanted to enter the medical profession. I basically fell into TV when I applied for “Blue Peter – You Decide” during my second year of university (it was a televised talent search to find the next presenter of the programme). I ended up coming second out of 20,000 applicants, but chose to return to Malaysia and finish my degree, rather than stay in the UK and try to make a career in TV… I guess I couldn’t stay away for long though.”
After graduating in 2014 he began his career at Sainsbury’s before being recruited by Google to advise media companies on their digital strategy. But with his heart in journalism he studied for an MA in journalism and secured an internship with the BBC. Following a year of working across a number of programmes including Radio 4 Extra and Channel 5 he was offered the role anchoring What’s New?
He said: “We’ve just finished the show’s launch week and it went better than we could have ever hoped. Our launch films went viral, with over four million people watching our content across the BBC website and social media. Truly the best start possible. When I got the job, I couldn’t even tell anybody about it because we had to keep our show a complete secret until launch week. Working for the BBC is such a dream come true.
“One of the best things about studying at the Malaysia Campus a few years ago was that there weren’t many established media or performing arts societies. I say it’s one of the best things, because if you were interested in those things, you could start your own group and make it happen. I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to create my own students’ magazine and events agency, because through these I was able to learn key skills for my subsequent roles.”
Ben will present the programme along co-star Debula Kemoli.
The programme will be presented from an immersive virtual studio where stories will be brought to life in a fun and engaging way using the latest VR technology.
It will be posted on YouTube every Saturday from 9am GMT. Timings for African countries vary.