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Mark Lee Urban (born 26 January 1961)[1] is a British journalist, historian, and broadcaster, and is currently the Diplomatic Editor and occasional Presenter for BBC Two's Newsnight.

Mark Urban
Mark Urban - Chatham House 2011.jpg
Mark Urban at Chatham House in 2011
Mark Lee Urban

(1961-01-26) 26 January 1961 (age 58)
Marylebone, London, England
EducationRokeby Preparatory School, King's College School
Alma materLondon School of Economics
OccupationBBC correspondent, Military Historian

Education and early careerEdit

Educated at the independent day schools Rokeby School and King's College School in Wimbledon, South London, Urban continued his education at the London School of Economics.

After graduation, he served in the British Army, for nine months as a regular officer in the Royal Tank Regiment on a Short Service Limited Commission and for four years in the Territorial Army.

Correspondent careerEdit

Urban joined the BBC in 1983 as an assistant producer, working on several BBC news programmes. From 1986 to 1990 he was the defence correspondent of The Independent, before rejoining the BBC as a general reporter on Newsnight. From 1993 to 1994 he was Middle East correspondent for BBC News, before becoming Newsnight's diplomatic editor, a role he has held since 1995.[2][3] He has at times been an embedded reporter, first with British and then U.S. troops.

In his years on Newsnight, he has reported on many of the most compelling foreign news stories in the past two decades: the Gulf War; the attempted coup d'état of 1991 in Moscow; 1993 events in Moscow; Bosnian War; Middle East peace process; the War in Kosovo; and the recent US military campaigns in War in Afghanistan and War in Iraq.[4]

In 2009 Urban received a Peace Through Media Award from the International Council for Press and Broadcasting.[4]

After the 2018 Amesbury poisonings Urban reported that he was working with Sergei Skripal up to a year before the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.[5]

Military historianEdit

In 2001, Urban published his first book on the Napoleonic Wars in the Iberian Peninsula. He claims that his study of George Scovell, in The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes: The Story of George Scovell, established him as a narrative historian[citation needed] who could effectively weave together first-hand accounts of the war without losing grip on the over-all story. His second narrative history, Rifles: Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharpshooters, published in 2003, continues the story of the Iberian campaign, through the history of the famed 95th Rifles. His study of the Royal Welch Fusiliers followed the same pattern as his earlier successes, combining first-hand accounts with an overarching narrative.

His book, Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the SAS and the Secret War in Iraq, was published in February 2010 by Little, Brown, and is, according to early reviews, "a heart-stoppingly vivid account of the Iraq conflict," particularly the so-called "Black Ops" efforts at counter-terrorism.[6]


  • Soviet Land Power (1985) ISBN 9780711014428
  • War in Afghanistan (1987) ISBN 9780333514771
  • Big Boys' Rules: The SAS and the secret struggle against the IRA (1992) ISBN 9780571168095
  • UK Eyes Alpha: Inside British Intelligence (1996) ISBN 9780571190683
  • The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes: The Story of George Scovell (2001) ISBN 9780571205387
  • Rifles: Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharpshooters (2003) ISBN 9780802714374
  • Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World (2005) ISBN 9780571224876
  • Fusiliers: Eight Years with the Redcoats in America (2007) ISBN 9780571224883
  • Task Force Black: The Explosive True Story of the Secret Special Forces War in Iraq (2011) ISBN 9780312541279
  • The Tank War: The British Band of Brothers - One Tank Regiment's World War II (2014) ISBN 9781408703632
  • The Edge: Is The Military Dominance Of The West Coming To An End? (2015) ISBN 9781408705834
  • The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy (2018) ISBN 9781250207739


  1. ^ Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF).
  2. ^ BBC News 2. Mark Urban bio. BBC Two. Accessed 13 February 2010.
  3. ^ Mark Urban, Debrett's People of Today
  4. ^ a b Mark Urban on Newsnight's coverage of peace and war, 2 February 2005.
  5. ^ Mark Urban: Salisbury poisoning: Skripals 'were under Russian surveillance, BBC, 4 July 2018
  6. ^ Tony Rennel. "SAS's secret war." The Mail online (London, UK). 13 February 2010. Accessed 13 February 2010.

External linksEdit