Stephen Dalziel: Biography

Ever since he was at school, Stephen Dalziel has been passionate about the correct use of the English language, and has enjoyed writing and public speaking. He enjoyed and still enjoys experimenting with different styles of writing, despite being accused by his class teacher when he was 14 of copying what was, in fact, his own original review of a book! He has since reviewed many books; written one book of his own, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire (Bison Books, 1993); contributed chapters to a number of others; and had numerous articles published over the years in journals and newspapers.

During a BBC career spanning 16 years, Stephen also mastered the art of writing for the radio, be it one-minute despatches; four-minute discursive talks; or scripts for radio programmes and series. As well as scripted pieces, Stephen frequently gave live and pre-recorded interviews on BBC television and radio; on average, he was on air 300 times a year.

Stephen’s work as a broadcaster combined two of his great pleasures: writing and performing. Just as he enjoyed writing while in school, he also took an active role in debating and acted in and produced plays, something he then continued to do during his time as a student, while reading Russian Studies at the University of Leeds, from 1977 to 1981.

After spending a year on a Short Service Volunteer Commission in the XV.XIX The King’s Royal Hussars, in 1982 Stephen joined the Soviet Studies Research Centre, based at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. From 1982 to 1988, Stephen lectured and wrote articles on the Soviet Armed Forces, all of which were sourced completely from unclassified material published in the USSR.

It was when the political situation under Mikhail Gorbachev was looking more interesting and relevant than military issues that Stephen moved to the BBC World Service in 1988. At first he headed a small research and information department on the USSR and Eastern Europe, and after a reorganisation of information services within World Service, in 1992 he was able to concentrate fully on writing and broadcasting as the BBC’s Russian Affairs Analyst.

In the crazy but exciting world of post-Soviet Russia, Stephen met and interviewed nearly all of those in and close to the country’s ruling elite, including former Soviet President Gorbachev; the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin; and former Soviet Foreign Minister and later President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze.

When the BBC decided to scale back on its specialist coverage of world affairs, Stephen moved into the world of consultancy, for the first time gaining experience of the business world. This was to prove invaluable when, in 2007, he took over as Executive Director of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, based in London but travelling regularly to Russia.

As well as doing a great deal of public speaking and being frequently involved in business negotiations, Stephen recruited a number of people for the Chamber during the five years he was in charge. Regularly reviewing candidates’ CVs and covering letters, and often interviewing for posts, underlined for him that each person really does have just one chance to make a first impression; and it was with the idea of helping people to understand and work on this that he left RBCC in September 2012 to create DLC as a training and consultancy organisation.