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April 29, 2010

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BBC presenter takes on Expo

BBC television current affairs host Mishal Husain is fresh from spending days at Heathrow Airport in London reporting on air traffic disruption as a result of the Iceland volcano eruptions.

So she wasn't looking forward to an expected ordeal registering for media accreditation and access to the World Expo Shanghai site from which she will anchor the network's coverage this week.

"It's the kind of process that can make your heart sink ... I'd just got off the plane and I was thinking this is gonna be a few hours. But we were in and out of there in about five minutes. It was very efficient," says the 37-year-old London-based mother of three.

First impressions always count and the veteran broadcaster is looking forward to the rest of the week getting to know the site and organizing stories for the special Expo edition of her program "Impact Asia" to be broadcast live tomorrow night at 9pm from a studio overlooking the pavilions in Pudong.

With a reporting and production crew flown into Shanghai for the coverage, UK-born Husain estimates she will be talking to a global viewing audience in around 300 million homes that subscribe to the BBC World Service.

"Also starting Thursday (today) and throughout Friday (tomorrow) we'll provide wider live coverage across the BBC of what's happening at Expo," says Husain who covered the Beijing Olympic Games and is on her first visit to Shanghai.

"We want to do something on the international face of China, the multi-cultural, multi-national feel of the city, then a lot of it will be based on what we find inside the site.

"Apart from the pavilions, I'm really interested to see what eco-ideas are presented.

"The theme of urbanization is really compelling for everywhere in the world we are facing the same kinds of pressures on our cities so I think it will be interesting to see what ideas we might be able to take away."

Husain is fascinated by the creativity of the Expo and that it has brought the world into Shanghai during a period of difficult economic times.

"I think it's a fantastic moment to be having this because the world is feeling a lot more optimistic than it was this time last year," she says.

Husain and crew will spend a couple of days compiling different segments for her program as well as interim news reports.

"I'd like to take a camera for a 'walk around the world' to give viewers the idea that they're at my shoulder seeing it with me. Maybe I can be filmed on an electric bike, something like that."

She says the UK Pavilion had generated interest in the UK because of its unique and innovative design, and adds the people management aspects of Expo would be of value to those organizing the London Olympics in 2012.

Clearly well read about Expo, she describes the Shanghai organizers' achievements as "phenomenal."

"Expos haven't had this attention for an awfully long time. It's because it's happening here and because it's on the scale that it is ... who knows from now on, it could generate a lot more interest in Expos than in recent years."

Husain's coverage will also be featured on the UK domestic news outlet BBC1 and

"I guess it will be very important to China to have that sort of international coverage because it will be an amazing event," she says.


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