Polak was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She studied English literature at the University of Amsterdam and then worked as a journalist for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. In 1987, she moved to the BBC, where she worked as a producer and reporter for the Today programme. In 1998, she became the first female presenter of the programme.
Polak left the Today programme in 2003 to join the BBC’s Newsnight programme. She presented Newsnight for two years, before leaving the BBC in 2005.
Since leaving the BBC, Polak has worked as a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She has presented programmes for the Dutch public broadcaster NOS, as well as for the BBC World Service. She has also written several books, including a memoir, “One Woman’s War” (2011), about her experiences as a war correspondent in the former Yugoslavia.
Polak is a respected and experienced journalist. She is known for her in-depth interviews and her ability to get to the heart of a story. She is also a gifted broadcaster, with a warm and engaging style.
In 2013, Polak was awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau by the Dutch government for her services to journalism.
Clairy Polak passed away on August 31st 2023, she was 67 years old.