Mark Tully — Sir William Mark Tully, (Order of the British Empire) OBE (born 1935 in Calcutta, India) is the former Chief of Bureau, BBC, New Delhi. He worked for BBC for a period of 30 years before resigning in July 1994. He held the position of Chief of Bureau, BBC, Delhi for 20 years. Since 1994 he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in New Delhi. He is currently the regular presenter of the weekly BBC Radio 4 programme Something Understood.
Mark Tully was born on 24 October 1935 in Calcutta; his father was a British businessman who was a partner in one of the leading managing agencies of the British Raj. He spent the first decade of his childhood in India, although without being allowed to socialise with Indian people, before going to England for schooling. He was educated at Twyford School, Marlborough College and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he studied Theology. After Cambridge, he intended becoming a priest in the Church of England but abandoned the vocation after just two terms at Lincoln Theological College, admitting later that he had doubts about “trusting [his] sexuality to behave as a Christian priest”.
Mark Tully joined the BBC in 1964 and moved to India in 1965 to work as the India Correspondent. He covered all major incidents in South Asia during his tenure, ranging from Indo-Pakistan conflicts, Bhopal gas tragedy, Operation Blue Star (and the subsequent assassination of Indira Gandhi, anti-Sikh riots), Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to the Demolition of Babri Masjid.
Tully resigned from BBC in July 1994, after an argument with John Birt, the then Director General. He accused Birt of “running the corporation by fear” and “turning the BBC into a secretive monolith with poor ratings and a demoralised staff”. Tully is equally well versed in English and Hindi.
He is patron of the British branch of Child In Need India (CINI UK).
Tully was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985 and was awarded the Padma Shree in 1992. He was knighted in the New Year Honours 2002, receiving a KBE, and in 2005 he received the Padma Bhushan.