Alastair Stewart

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For the Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician, see Al Stewart.
Not to be confused with Alastair Burnet.
Alastair Stewart
OBE
Alastair Stewart 31.08.07.jpg
Born Alastair James Stewart
(1952-06-22) 22 June 1952 (age 62)
Gosport, Hampshire, England
Alma mater University of Bristol
Occupation Journalist, presenter
Notable credit(s) ITN (1980—)
Title Alastair Stewart OBE
Spouse(s) Sally Ann Jung (m. 1974)
Children 4

Alastair James Stewart OBE (born 22 June 1952) is an English journalist and newscaster, currently employed by ITN where he is a main newscaster for ITV News.

Stewart joined Southern Television in 1976 then joined ITN in 1980 where he served 3 years with Channel 4 News and remains a main newsreader with ITV News after 31 years, making him the longest serving male newsreader on British television having worked in both the local news, and the national news for the past 38 years.

He is a patron of the charity Kids for Kids - helping children in Darfur [1] and disability charity Scope.[2]

Early life[edit]

Stewart was born in Gosport, Hampshire[3] to a Scottish father from Invergarry and an English mother. Both of his parents served in the Royal Air Force.[4][5]

Stewart was educated in Scotland, at the state school Madras College, St. Andrews, Fife, then in England at the independent school Salesian College, Farnborough, Hampshire and at St. Augustine's Abbey School in Ramsgate, Kent,[6] followed by the University of Bristol, where he studied economics and politics[6][7] and worked for the National Union of Students from 1974–76.[7]

Career[edit]

1970s[edit]

Stewart's career in television started in 1976 with ITV's south of England company Southern Television in Southampton.[8] He was a reporter, industrial correspondent, presenter and documentary maker. He recorded one of the last interviews with Lord Mountbatten before he was assassinated by the IRA in 1979,[9] and even spent six weeks in Ford Open Prison to make a half-hour documentary.[7]

1980s[edit]

He joined ITN in 1980 as industrial correspondent,[7] soon joining its roster of additional newsreaders. From 1983[8] to 1986, he was a presenter and reporter with ITN's Channel 4 News, before moving in September 1986 to present ITN's News at 5.45.

Stewart provided live coverage of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster as the details of the tragedy unfolded.[8] A two-minute news-flash became an unscripted, one hour special programme. He also anchored, with Sandy Gall, the award winning coverage on ITN on the night of the bombing of the Pan Am jet over Lockerbie[8] and presented the ITV network coverage of the memorial service for the victims.

He moved again in May 1989, to ITN's flagship News at Ten bulletin,[8] which he anchored live from the fall of the Berlin Wall, before spending a year in the United States as ITN's Washington correspondent. Four days after returning from his assignment in Washington he was sent to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to anchor ITN's coverage of the Gulf War. He presented News at Ten, live from Saudi Arabia for two months. At the end of February, Stewart became the first British television reporter to broadcast live from the liberated Kuwait City. He presented News at Ten from Kuwait for a week before returning to the UK.

1990s[edit]

ITN's network coverage of the 1992 Budget saw the ninth year of Stewart's involvement in the presentation of the annual event for ITV.[9] It was his fifth year anchoring the programme having replaced Sir Alastair Burnet, who retired from ITN in 1991.

During his time with ITN, he has also provided the commentary for many of its other special programmes on the ITV network including the State Openings of Parliament, numerous by-elections, state visits and for the Royal Weddings of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer and The Duke of York and Sarah Ferguson.

From 1993 to September 2009, he was the co-presenter of ITV London's regional news programme London Tonight.

He has also presented Alastair Stewart's Sunday for BBC Radio 5 in 1994. Then in 1995, he joined GMTV, where he anchored Alastair Stewart's Sunday Programme until 2001.

Stewart has also presented Police Camera Action!, which originally started in 1994, on ITV, showing video footage of examples of road crime from police cars. But in 2003, he had to give this up after his second conviction (being four times over the legal limit after ordering a Chinese takeaway, he drove into a telegraph pole) for drink driving.[10] Episodes that had already been recorded for broadcast in 2002 were finally shown in January 2006. However, in September 2007, a new series of Police Camera Action! had returned to screens, primarily with new presenter Adrian Simpson, but with Stewart being reinstated to introduce and conclude each episode.[citation needed]

Stewart made a brief appearance on Bad Girls, as a news reporter who reported character Monica Lindsay's successful appeal. He also appeared as himself in a scene cut from the 1999 film Notting Hill, interviewing William Thacker's (Hugh Grant) flatmate Spike (Rhys Ifans). The scene appears as a DVD extra.

2000s[edit]

Stewart was a presenter on the now defunct ITV News Channel for the 2003 Iraq War presenting a weekday programme called Live with Alastair Stewart.

He has also been a regular presence in ITV's national election coverage, co-anchoring their network coverage of the general elections of 2005 (with Jonathan Dimbleby), 1997 (with Dimbleby and Michael Brunson), 1992 (with Jon Snow) and 1987 with Alastair Burnet. He was the main anchor of Election Night Live: America Decides, ITV's through-the-night programme covering the 2008 US Presidential Elections.

In February 2007, he became co-presenter of the ITV News (known as the Tyne Tees & Border News), replacing Nicholas Owen. The bulletin was revamped in July 2009, from which point Stewart became one of two main alternate newscasters for the programme. Also in 2007, he hosted a political programme for ITV, Moral of the Story, which aired at various late times on Sunday nights, but was decommissioned after failing to attract substantial viewing figures.

In August 2009, it was announced that he would become main co-presenter of the ITV News at 6:30, relinquishing his role as presenter of London Tonight. This came into effect from 7 September 2009. It was also announced simultaneously that he would be the main presenter of ITV's general election results programme.[11]

Stewart is a fan of the band The Rolling Stones, winning Celebrity Mastermind on 29 December 2009 with them as his specialist subject. When asked by host John Humphrys if there was anybody left he would like to interview, he answered the Pope and Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, clarifying Jagger first.

2010s[edit]

On 15 April 2010, Stewart moderated the first ever United Kingdom leaders debates between the Prime Ministerial candidates in the 2010 general election, featuring the incumbent Gordon Brown, Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, debating on live television. Three debates were to take place, produced by ITV, the BBC and Sky. By random lots, ITV drew the first debate, and chose Stewart to act as moderator.

Stewart received honorary doctorates from the University of Plymouth in September 2010, from the University of Winchester in 2011,[12] and from the University of Sunderland in 2012.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Stewart has been married to Sally Ann Jung since 1974 and have four children. Stewart lives in London.

Charity[edit]

Stewart is an active supporter of a number of charities, including Kids for Kids which helps villages in Darfur.[1] He is Vice President of both NCH Action for Children and Home-Start.[14]

Stewart has appeared twice on Celebrity editions ] game show The Chase. His first appearance was on 19 October 2013. His second appearance was a Text Santa special on 20 December 2013 and featured his fellow ITV News presenters [Romilly Weeks]] Matt Barbet and Charlene White.

Awards and honours[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
John Stapleton
RTS: Television Journalism
Presenter of the Year

2005
Succeeded by
Jeremy Thompson
Preceded by
Nicholas Owen
Male host of ITV News at 1:30
February 2007 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Mark Austin
Male co-host of ITV News at 6:30
7 September 2009 –
Succeeded by
Incumbent