Veteran broadcaster John Humphrys ,renowned for his frosty exterior, showed his softer side by agreeing to have his face painted during a live Today programme.

As an ex broadcast news PR Stella Tooth, from Lammas Park, Ealing spent a fair amount of her working life looking after the public image of news journalists, like John.

Now, as a portrait artist, she visited the Today studio last week (15) to paint a pesonal image of him. The former journalist and BBC production assistant has also painted seasoned former correspondent and anchor of Sky News' Live at Five, Jeremy Thompson and completed an initial study of ITV News' Julie Etchingham.

She is now in talks with BBC correspondents Kate Adie, Bridget Kendall and Allan Little, among others, about painting their portraits. Her aim, once she has them all under her belt, is to hold an exhibition.

Sky News' Live at Five, Jeremy Thompson
Newscaster Jeremy Thompson
 

Stella, 54, looked after publicity for BBC News, for seven years at the end of the 1990s, when the Today programme line up was John Humphrys, Jim Naughtie and Sue McGregor.

She said: "It was great to see John again and to meet another of his on air partners, Sarah Montague, who told me she thought it was the first time they had had a portrait artist painting in the Today studio live on air.

"John was very game. He invited me into the Today studio for half an hour to do an initial study and to take reference photographs on which I will draw to paint his portrait."

"John's face is fantastic. His life is in his face and he has enormous energy that shows in it as well as in his every gesture. There's a steeliness too that can be seen in one eye when he's concentrating on an interview. But he's very energetic and moves around a lot, which makes trying to paint his portrait quite a challenge."

John said: "It's rather odd having someone do your portrait while you're working. They say the camera never lies. Sadly, neither does the artist. I rather hoped she might iron out the wrinkles….!"

As Stella has looked after the public profile of these top presenters for more than 18 years, she was delighted to combine her journalistic knowledge with her artistic side. She took regular evening classes in life drawing and painting, a part-time course at Heatherley's School of Fine Art - which specialises in figurative art - while working at Sky, before deciding to study full-time for a two year portraiture diploma.

She said: "Art has always been in my heart so I thought it would be lovely to bring my two worlds together. It was nice to see them all again, a real thrill.

I'd love to do as many portraits as I can from the major three UK broadcasters with a view to an exhibition. Perhaps one of the broadcasters might wish to show them? Certainly wouldn't say no if the National Portrait Gallery came a-callin