VETERAN broadcaster John Tusa regaled a Swindon Festival of Literature crowd with tales of his time in television.

John spent years in prominent roles at several big British institutions.

He co-founded and presented Newsnight in the '80s, and he has been the managing director of the BBC World Service and the Barbican Arts Centre.

Now, he's poured a lifetime of experience and wisdom into a new book, Making A Noise, from which he read extracts.

One extract centred around one of the first reports he did for Newsnight that focused on a Trotskyite clique in Labour that was gaining momentum.

John said: “Sound familiar? There are long cycles in our political history.

“We thought that because we'd exposed militant behaviour then that that was that, but quite a few of the people I interviewed are well-known figures in the Labour Party today and the same issues are cropping up.”

He took the audience on a whistle-stop tour of the most memorable moments in his lengthy career, including the time he helped Margaret Thatcher do a live phone-in with listeners from the Soviet Union on the BBC World Service.

John spoke about his appointment as managing director of the World Service.

He said: "I knew what the service was about but I had no experience of running something like that.

"The governors took a huge risk and the bureaucracy were furious that I'd been considered.

"There's a tension between values and management, people who want to run it more efficiently but don't think about the effects on its values."

There was one job he regretted taking - Principal of Wolfson College - but it wasn't until he woke up in a sweat that he realised his mistake.

He said: "I took that job for a ghastly variety of reasons, vanity led me astray.

"You can think through a problem with your head and feel with your heart, but even if the two are aligned, it's the whole body that lets you really know if it's right."

Born in what is now the Czech Republic, he came to Britain in 1939 and adapted to a new way of life.

John added: “I had to learn how to be British.

“The notion of British identity is very inclusive, tolerant, generous, self-deprecating, strong, precious, and a privilege.

“It was only after I’d been to boarding school and university and national service, and got married that I felt I’d become truly British.

"I don't regret being British, speaking English, and feeling European."

John then took questions from inquisitive attendees.

In response to someone asking if there are any lessons from history which would be useful in relation to Brexit, he said: "I'm no more qualified than anyone in this room to comment on that.

"I can't recall anything quite like this political process.but there's acartoon called 'A Leap in the Dark' - that's where we are now."

One concerned audience member asked, in this age of fake news, what news sources are really reliable.

John replied: "Most broadcasters are reliable, but there will never be only one source of the truth - and there shouldn't be.

"You have to listen to everybody with critical intelligence, wits, and knowledge.

"The burden of sorting out the mess of information and disinformation is on the individual - and, of course, on the news outlets to not tell lies"

One attendee returned to the topic of the Labour Party and asked for his thoughts on the party's Momentum group.

John replied: "I believe in thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

"The prevailing thesis is generated by Momentum, but there will at some point be an antithesis, from which will come a synthesis.

"No one movement stays without challenge - the only question is when, from where, and how strong that challenge is."