About the BDOHP

The BDOHP was established in 1995 by Malcolm McBain, a retired Diplomatic Service officer.

The Programme is now directed in a personal capacity by Professor Patrick Salmon OBE, Chief Historian at the FCDO, and managed by Abbey Wright MBE, a former diplomatic spouse, who together with a team of volunteer recorders conducts and transcribes the interviews.

The views expressed by the subjects recorded for the Programme are their own and do not reflect government policy.

“The BDOHP is an essential resource for historians. It provides invaluable insights into the personalities involved which are simply not available in the declassified records; it puts flesh on the archival skeleton. Without it, historians simply cannot achieve a thorough understanding of contemporary British history.” 

Professor Rory Cormac, FRHistS SFHEA, Professor of International Relations, University of Nottingham.

Meet the team

Patrick Salmon, Director of the BDOHP

Colour portrait photograph of Patrick Salmon

Patrick Salmon


Patrick Salmon is Chief Historian at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) but directs the BDOHP in a personal capacity. Before taking up his present position, Patrick was Professor of International History at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. His publications include Scandinavia and the Great Powers 1890-1940 (1997) and Deadlock and Diversion: Scandinavia in British Strategy during the Twilight War 1939-1940 (2012), as well as several volumes in the series Documents on British Policy Overseas (DBPO), including German Unification 1989-1990 (2009), The Challenge of Apartheid: UK-South African Relations 1985-1986 (2017) and The Unwinding of Apartheid: UK-South African Relations 1986-1990 (2019).


Katharine Thomson, Archivist

Katharine joined the Churchill Archives Centre in 1997 as an archivist, initially as part of the Churchill Papers project, and since then has worked on many other individual collections, also being responsible for the administration of the BDOHP at Churchill.  She tends to specialise in earlier political material, but has also catalogued the papers of various members of the Churchill family, the papers of Leo and Julian Amery, Neil Kinnock, Enoch Powell and Mary Soames.

Email: Katharine.Thomson@chu.cam.ac.uk


Ian Hay-Campbell, Recorder

Colour portrait photograph of Ian Hay-Campbell

Ian Hay-Campbell


Ian Hay-Campbell has been a Recorder with the British Diplomatic Oral History Programme since January 2020.  Born, brought up and educated in New Zealand Ian took a postgraduate degree in modern European history in 1967.  He had a first career as a radio producer before joining the FCO in November 1984.  Ian retired from the Service in May 2005 and has had a variety of volunteer work since then plus extensive family history research.


Alasdair MacDermott, Recorder

Colour portrait photograph of Alasdair MacDermott

Alasdair MacDermott


Alasdair MacDermott has been recording subjects in Scotland for the BDOHP since 2016. Born in Glasgow and educated in London he did voluntary work in West Berlin and Budapest before joining the Foreign Office where his career covered postings in Afghanistan, Ghana, Turkey and Sri Lanka. He spent a total of nine years in Japan after doing Japanese hard language training. His final post before retirement was as High Commissioner to Namibia.

Abbey Wright, Manager of the BDOHP

Colour portrait photograph of Abbey Wright

Abbey Wright


Abbey Wright has recorded for and managed the BDOHP since 2013.  Abbey is a former diplomatic spouse and has professional experience in corporate public relations, government relations and recruitment.  For ten years Abbey managed political party programmes for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.   Abbey was awarded the MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours List in recognition of her services to public understanding of UK foreign policy.

Email: bdohprog@gmail.com


Moira Goldstaub, Recorder

Colour portrait photograph of Moira Goldstaub

Moira Goldstaub


Moira Goldstaub’s background is in Law, having practised at the Bar for thirty years before taking the ‘King’s shilling’ and a minor judicial appointment!   Moira has always had a great interest in history and current affairs and has been recording for the BDOHP since 2016.


Sheila Lyall Grant, Recorder

Colour portrait photograph of Sheila Lyall Grant

Sheila Lyall Grant


Sheila Lyall Grant comes from a public sector background, having spent more than 40 years as a British diplomat in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  During her career, she had overseas postings in Pakistan (twice), South Africa, France and the United States. She also held a variety of roles in London, including organising high level visits to the UK by e.g. Presidents Bush and Obama. 

After leaving Government service in 2021,  Sheila has recently started recording interviews for the British Diplomatic Oral History Programme.


Catherine Manning, Recorder

Colour portrait photograph of Catherine Manning

Catherine Manning


Catherine Manning has been a Recorder with the BDOHP since 2014.   Catherine, now retired, was a teacher and writer.  She is married to a former member of the Diplomatic Service.


Suzanne Ricketts, Recorder

Colour portrait photograph of Suzanne Ricketts

Suzanne Ricketts


Suzanne Ricketts has been a recorder with the British Diplomatic Oral History Programme since 2017.    She started in the FCO many moons ago and then became an EFL teacher.  Postings accompanying her husband Peter included Brussels and Washington, ending up in Paris, with all the challenges of a large and busy Residence while teaching English at Sciences Po.

Contact the BDOHP

If you would like to learn more about the British Diplomatic Oral History Programme or are a retired British diplomat interested in being recorded please contact Abbey Wright, Manager of the BDOHP:


For general research enquiries about the BDOHP, please contact:

Katharine Thomson,
Churchill Archives Centre


Our founder: Malcolm McBain LVO (1928-2022)

Black and white portrait photograph of Malcolm McBain

Malcolm McBain

Malcolm McBain joined the Diplomatic Service via the Commonwealth Relations Office in 1957.  After an initial appointment as private secretary to the British High Commissioner in New Delhi, his postings covered Kenya, Thailand, Brunei, Texas and finally Ambassador to Madagascar.

After his retirement from the Diplomatic Service, Malcolm was in contact with an American colleague who told him of the US Foreign Affairs Oral History Program of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST).  This had been running since 1986, part of the Library of Congress American Memory collection.  Malcolm decided to campaign to get a similar diplomatic oral history programme started in the UK.

The BDOHP was established in 1995, originally under the University of Leicester and with the support of the FCO.  In 1997 the BDOHP moved to the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College Cambridge where it is housed today.  Malcolm successfully ran the programme for 18 years and organised over 100 interviews, conducting many of them himself.  Today, the BDOHP remains most grateful to him for his pioneering efforts and to the McBain Family Foundation for assisting with funds to improve the webpage.

Read the transcript of Malcolm’s own BDOHP interview, and of his memoir from his time in Madagascar.

Malcolm McBain’s interview and memoir


Supported by the McBain Family Foundation and the Chalke Valley History Trust.  The Chalke Valley History Trust was established in May 2012 to promote the understanding and enjoyment of history. The founders believe passionately that it is vital for people of all ages to learn about the past in order to understand how it has shaped our modern world and to look to the future with a knowledge of the experience of past generations and the lessons of history. The Trust solicits donations to support its objectives and welcomes applications for grants to fund projects which meet the aims of the Trust.

Logo for Chalke Velley History Trust