Thompson began his broadcasting career at the BBC in 1979 as a researcher for Nationwide in Belfast. He progressed through the corporation's internal training scheme, working on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and Newsround.
In addition to his broadcasting career at BBC Northern Ireland, Thompson has presented Newsnight and BBC Breakfast and, for a period, occasionally guest presented on BBC News Channel and BBC News' politics and arts interview programme HARDtalk.
Thompson was awarded Royal Television Society Regional TV Presenter of the Year for two consecutive years: 1997 and 1998. He was also nominated in the same category in 1999. In 2007, Thompson received an Award of Distinction from Belfast Metropolitan College for his services to journalism. It was announced in 2019 that Thompson would retire from the corporation in 2020 along with three other BBC presenters.
He sings baritone with the Belfast Philharmonic and has regularly performed at many classical concerts with the august choir alongside the Ulster Orchestra. He is a committed and highly experienced wildlife photographer and mountain walker.
Thompson is married to Sharon and has two children, Patrick and Matthew, the latter a reporter for LBC.
- Noel Thompson's profile BBC Newsline, 15 April 2008
- Breakfast Presenters - Noel Thompson BBC News, 3 November 2008
- Programme Award Winners 1997 Archived March 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Royal Television Society
- Programme Award Winners 1998 Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine Royal Television Society
- Programme Award Winners 1999 Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine Royal Television Society
- Noel Thompson profile BBC Newsline, 15 April 2008