Based on the life of the star BBC correspondent James Mossman during his last years until his death in 1971, The Reporter tries to find the truth behind his bewildering suicide. Compiled from meticulous research, Nicholas Wright weaves together a portrait of an enigmatic but brilliant man warning, in his introduction to the play, that ‘the Jim of my play will be only a shadow of Jim in real life.’
James Mossman is a former MI6 agent and well-known broadcaster. Wright begins Mossman’s story at the end, with his suicide in 1971 in his secluded cottage in Norfolk. The play then takes us back to 1963, Mossman has been reporting on the situation in Vietnam for the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Panorama. He proceeds to guide us through various phases of his life: his first meeting with Canadian potter Louis who soon becomes his lover, his on-air attack of Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s decision to support America in Vietnam, his post-Panorama career, Louis’ accidental overdose in 1968 and his touching friendship with feminist novelist Rosamond Lehmann. However, ultimately, the one answer he craves for proves to be forever elusive.
The Reporter was first performed at the National Theatre in London in 2007.