Nicholas Bedell was one of Britain's leading experts on eastern Europe. The son of a well-to-do stockbroker, he read Arabic and Persian at Cambridge University. He also befriended Polish undergraduates, which stimulated his interest in Polish and Russian. From 1962 to 1964, he worked for the Times Literary Supplement, and until 1967 as a script editor for BBC Radio. In 1964, he married Cecilla Honeyman and the couple went to live part-time in Tangier; they had two sons and later divorced. In 1967 he was commissioned to write the first biography of the Polish leader Wladyslaw Gomulka. That same year, his circumstances changed dramatically when his cousin, the 3rd Baron Bethell, died unexpectedly. This made Nicholas the 4th Baron Bethell with a seat in the House of Lords. He was a Conservative member from 1967 to 1999 and was appointed a Lord in Waiting (government whip) after the 1970 general election. Over many years serving in the European Parliament, Bedell was active as chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.