I couldn’t live without…my faithful filofax

So is your Filofax an 80s fashion statement?

I certainly like it as an object, even though it’s really battered. Some of the London phone numbers in it don’t have a prefix so it actually dates from the 70s. I was back in Britain having been brought up in South Africa and working at the BBC, moving from news to Woman’s Hour.

“I once left it behind at a hotel and
nearly had a heart attack”

There was so much going on but they were very different times. I remember BBC bosses could be fussy about what you wore. One day, Susannah Simons, a studio manager, was told she couldn’t wear trousers to work so she took hers off and operated for the rest of the day just wearing her long jacket. Another female friend once got bawled out by the then head of Radio 4 for walking through reception at Broadcasting House with plastic bags after shopping during her lunch-hour.

If your Filofax fell into enemy hands, what would they learn about you?

Nothing bad; there are some famous names and addresses in there – politicians, actors, TV and radio people. As a semi-retired broadcaster, every day is different and there’s a lot of crossing out . . . most of which even I can’t read. I did once leave it behind in a drawer at a skiing hotel and nearly had a heart attack. I had to wait a week before it was returned to me in a Jiffy bag.

Only a very few people still use them. Where have all the others gone . . . into a Filofax landfill?

What a lovely thought. Do people throw them away? They are long lasting. The leather on mine is battered but very serviceable, the paper is still of a decent quality and the alphabetical dividers still legible.

Is The Reunion an emotional programme to make?

In the last series we did a programme on HMS Sheffield. On the face of it, we think we’ve heard the Falklands survivors’ stories so many times but the five people we reunited from the crew were so different from each other it was incredibly moving. When I do a programme touching on a tricky subject, professionalism takes over but when I listened back to this one on air, I blubbed three times.

When we did the Barings Bank collapse, Nick Leeson [the rogue trader responsible for the 1995 debacle] had not met his old boss since the day he was sacked. The boss was worried about appearing but we’re not a confrontational programme. We don’t put people on the rack.

Have you been to reunions of your own?

I attended the 40th anniversary for my old school in South Africa. One woman looked just as she had at 17. I don’t know what was in the water but she hadn’t had any work done.

I also went to secretarial college for six months.

My mother insisted I went so I demanded to go to one in Oxford because it was the nearest I would get to the dreaming spires. As soon as I got there it moved to Winchester, which was a tremendous blow.

Sue MacGregor, 70, presents Radio 4’s The Reunion, which returns on Sunday 19 August at 11.15am.