Sir Trevor McDonald took pills to calm his nerves before major interviews.

Sir Trevor McDonald had to take tablets before important interviews

Sir Trevor McDonald had to take tablets before important interviews

The legendary newsreader has interviewed significant global figures including Nelson Mandela and Saddam Hussein during his career but has revealed that he had to take tablets after suffering "sleepless nights" before the conversations.

Trevor told the Desperately Seeking Wisdom podcast: "It was always fascinating for me, and terrifying in a way, because the greater the person or the bigger the person in political circles, the better you felt you had to do.

"The only way I knew how to do that was to prepare assiduously before I did it.

"I would have sleepless nights before interviewing Mandela or Hussein: I mean, literally, and I would be on edge.

"If I may confess, at one stage I even got the chemist to give me pills to calm me down."

Trevor, 84, was the only British reporter to interview the former Iraqi president Hussein when he did so in a "totally frightening" experience for ITN in 1990 and recalled how much the politician terrified people in the country.

He recalled: “The Iraqis are some of the nicest people I know [but] once you mentioned the words Saddam Hussein – the conversation stopped.

"Just the mention of his name seemed to cow people.

“You couldn’t be unaware, however he was dressed and looked, of what this man represented and what he did.

"I was aware of all of that and it just contributed to how frightened I was.

"And because of that, I think I did something which I will always find I should never do again, and I said to him: ‘Mr President… is it a very Arab thing to do to invade a neighbouring nation?'

"He was rather taken aback by it."