MALCOLM BRABANT’S face – round, ruddy, full-featured, and crowned by a bald dome – is immediately recognisable. For 30 years he has been an award-winning member of the BBC’s team of foreign correspondents, bringing wars, natural disasters, political stand-offs and occasionally something a bit more cheerful into our living rooms on the evening news.
In April 2011, he attended an Athens clinic for a routine vaccination against yellow fever before an assignment in the Ivory Coast. As well as reporting from Athens, he has also travelled the globe to cover international stories, winning a coveted Sony award in 1993 for his reporting from a besieged Sarajevo at the height of the Bosnian crisis.
His reaction to the vaccine, however, was anything but routine. “It fried my brain,” he states simply. Overnight a previously sane man developed severe psychosis. An agnostic, Brabant became so convinced he was the Messiah that he telephoned his bemused fellow correspondent, Allan Little, to appoint him “first disciple” and ask him to record his words of wisdom.