Moira Stuart

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Moira Stuart OBE
Born Moira Clare Ruby Stuart
(1949-09-02) 2 September 1949 (age 65)
Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
Occupation Presenter, newsreader
Agent Sue Ayton[1]
Notable credit(s) BBC News
Parents Harold Stuart
Marjorie Gordon
Family Sandra (sister)[2]

Moira Clare Ruby Stuart[3] OBE (born 2 September 1949) is a British presenter, who was the first African-Caribbean female newsreader on British television. She has presented many television news and radio programmes for the BBC and is currently the newsreader for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2.[4]

Early life[edit]

Moira Stuart was born in the Royal Free Hospital, London, on 2 September 1949,[3] to African-Caribbean parents.[5] She was educated in London until she was 13, attending Our Lady's Convent RC High School, Stamford Hill. She then moved with her family to Bermuda for a while, returning at age 15 to London, where she attended college.[6]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Stuart began working with the BBC in the 1970s and was a production assistant in the radio Talks and Documentaries department.[7] She was a continuity announcer and newsreader for both BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 2, and in 1980 she played Darong in series one of game show The Adventure Game. She moved to television news in 1981.[7][8]

TV news career[edit]

Since 27 August 1981, Stuart has presented on every news bulletin devised on BBC television[9] apart from the Ten O'Clock News. She has also appeared on The News Quiz and presented the news on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme each Sunday and the following programme Sunday AM with Andrew Marr. She presented the news for BBC Breakfast during the first half-hour of the programme, three days a week, followed by short half-hourly round-ups throughout the rest of the three-hour-long show. However, BBC Breakfast moved to a new studio with a new look on 2 May 2006 and the entire news content was presented by two main presenters. Stuart retained her slot on BBC's Sunday AM show and continued to present some weekend television bulletins on BBC One. She also worked on other long-form programmes for other BBC channels, including BBC Four.

"Throughout her 30-plus years at the BBC,
Moira has achieved a great deal.
She has always been a model professional
as well as being much loved and admired
by both the public and her BBC colleagues.
Everyone in BBC News wishes her
all the best for the future."
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News[9]

In April 2007 it was announced that Stuart would be leaving Sunday AM, resulting in the loss of a regular slot on broadcast TV.[10] This prompted an angry backlash from press and colleagues[11] who accused the BBC of ageism and sexism.[12] The BBC initially declined to comment on why she was no longer being used, but rumours circulated within the BBC and commercial newsrooms that Stuart had been removed because she was considered "too old" at 57, although Anna Ford had continued anchoring the BBC One O'Clock News until her retirement at 62. This was denied by Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson when he was questioned by a House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee.[13] Thompson stated: "BBC News, News 24, the radio networks, have changed over the years and the traditional role of the newsreader, as opposed to a correspondent or presenter, has virtually died out over the services.... We tend to use journalists across BBC news programmes ... to read the news headlines."[14]

Stuart's 26-year career with BBC Television News was brought to a close on 3 October 2007, when the BBC announced her departure.[9] In total, her experience had spanned 34 years of BBC radio and TV.

In April 2009, the departing head of BBC News, Peter Horrocks, was quoted as saying: "I regret the way some viewed her departure. Many people came to believe that Moira left for reasons of ageism, or other -isms. This was never the case."[15]

On 21 November 2009, it was reported in The Guardian that Chris Evans was "lining up" Moira Stuart to read the news bulletins on his new BBC Radio 2 show in January 2010, when he was due to inherit the slot from Terry Wogan.[1] On 6 January 2010, it was confirmed that she would return to BBC News, reading the news for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, starting on 11 January 2010.[16]

Other projects[edit]

A keen music lover, Stuart deputised for Humphrey Lyttelton on his BBC Radio 2 Best of Jazz programme, has participated in the British Jazz Awards as compère, and features as a narrator on a jazz-rap album by Soweto Kinch.

With Adam Shaw, she also presents the BBC Two personal finance series Cashing In.

Stuart has served on various boards and judging panels including Amnesty International, The Royal Television Society, United Nations Association, the Orange Prize, the London Fair Play Consortium and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission.[17]

In 2004, Stuart was the subject in one episode of the BBC documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?, which helped trace back her family history.[2]

In 2006, Stuart played a comic version of herself in the Ricky Gervais television comedy Extras, supposedly involved in supplying drugs to Ronnie Corbett.[18]

In March 2007 she also presented the documentary In Search of Wilberforce for BBC Television, examining the role of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the British bill that banned the slave trade.[17] According to a review of the programme: "The documentary is well-structured and the informed questioning by Stuart enables a debunking of the Wilberforce legend and a challenge to the myopia in Britain which focuses upon the abolitionists rather than those who were enslaved."[19]

On 2 June 2007, she hosted the BBC One topical news quiz show Have I Got News for You,[20] and was well received by the public. The extended and uncut version of the programme (shown the following evening, 3 June 2007) revealed that, while making a spoof appeal for work, she fluffed her lines on a number of occasions but took it all with her traditional good humour.

On 16 November 2007, she visited Mill Hill School in Ripley, Derbyshire, to officially open the new school building alongside Councillor Alan Charles from Derbyshire County Council.

In 2008, 2009 and 2010, she appeared in a series of advertisements for HMRC promoting tax-return procedures.

In March 2014, Stuart began hosting the Sunday late-night BBC Radio 2 programme Music Until Midnight, a slot that previously broadcast David Jacobs' long-running easy-listening programme until 2013.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

She is unmarried, although she has said that on two occasions she almost did marry. Desmond Lynam has said that he has been a boyfriend of hers.[23]

Family[edit]

Stuart's mother, Marjorie Gordon (born 1921) from Dominica, and her father Harold Stuart (1914–66), a Barbadian, divorced when she was ten months old. Stuart's uncle was the singer Ken Gordon, who was a member, with George Browne, of the vocal trio Three Just Men;[24] her cousin is the Ghana-born publisher Margaret Busby.[25][26] Talking about her ancestry, Stuart says she is from a "long line of outsiders" and that she considers herself "a true mongrel — and proud of it".[5][27] In Who Do You Think You Are?, she travelled up to the Scottish Highlands, as well as to Antigua and to Dominica, where her great-grandfather George James Christian was born.[26] During the programme, Stuart discovered the story of how her grandfather Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon met his wife Clara Christian while both were studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. While her grandfather completed his degree and qualified in 1918, Stuart's grandmother did not finish her studies, using money intended to pay for her course to pay their bills instead. In the programme, Stuart was visibly moved to learn more about her ancestors in the context of the Atlantic slave trade, and about their fight for human rights and social justice.

Awards and achievements[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b John Plunkett (21 November 2009). "Chris Evans lines up Moira Stuart to read news on Radio 2 breakfast show". London: The Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b "Moira Stuart". BBC. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  3. ^ a b Hugo Rifkind (6 June 2007). "The age of Moira". London: The Times. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  4. ^ BBC News (6 January 2010). "Moira Stuart lands Radio 2 role". Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  5. ^ a b "Moira Stuart is adamant: I'm not revealing my age". London: Daily Mail. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  6. ^ Elizabeth Sanderson, interview with Moira Stuart, Daily Mail, 21 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b Biography at The Chris Evans Breakfast Show website.
  8. ^ Every Generation (2004). "100 Great Black Britons - Moira Stuart". Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  9. ^ a b c "Moira Stuart to leave BBC News". BBC Press Office. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  10. ^ BBC News (27 March 2007). "Moira Stuart loses BBC News slot". Retrieved 200-03-27. 
  11. ^ Gordon Rayner and Tom Kelly, "Paxman to the rescue as the Save Moira campaign speeds up", Daily Mail, 4 April 2007.
  12. ^ Jonathan Brown (25 April 2007). "End of era for news readers as BBC dashes Moira's hopes". London: The Independent. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Thompson defends Moira Stuart axing". Digital Spy. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  14. ^ Tara Conlan (9 May 2007). "ITV wants Moira Stuart". London: The Guardian. 
  15. ^ Hillier, Sally (14 April 2009). "Allow me to apologise, says departing news boss Horrocks". Ariel 2009 (week 15): p. 4. 
  16. ^ Macadam, Daniel (6 January 2010). "Moira Stuart returns to read news on Chris Evans show". Press Gazette. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  17. ^ a b "Agent's Bio". Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  18. ^ "Ronnie Corbett: 'I only snorted cocaine with Ricky Gervais because Moira Stewart was my drug dealer'", Daily Mirror, 29 August 2010.
  19. ^ "In search of Wilberforce (BBC2), Presenter: Moira Stuart", 1807 Commemorated - The abolition of the slave trade, Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past and the Institute of Historical Research, 2007.
  20. ^ "Moira Stuart is adamant: I'm not revealing my age". London: Mail Online. 1 June 2007. 
  21. ^ "Episode Guide", Moira Stuart page, BBC Radio 2.
  22. ^ Gillian Reynolds, "Moira Stuart triumphs as Radio 2's chic presenter", The Telegraph, 12 March 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Head girl with a subversive streak Profile: Moira Stuart". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 1 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  24. ^ "Dr E.F. Gordon’s Son Ken Gordon Dies At 86", Bernews, 7 November 2013.
  25. ^ The Literator, "Cover Stories: Sue Freestone; Margaret Busby; Zadie Smith", The Independent, 16 June 2006.
  26. ^ a b Thomson Fontaine, "George James Christian: Pioneer in Africa", TheDominican.net, Volume No. 1, Issue No. 32, 27 November 2002.
  27. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are? with Moira Stuart". Who Do You Think You Are?. 2004-11-16. BBC. BBC Two. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory/get_started/ya_s1_celeb_gallery_06.shtml.
  28. ^ a b theedge.com "Moira Stuart by The Edge Entertainment Agency". Retrieved 8 December 2009. 
  29. ^ BBC News (16 June 2001). "Jackie Stewart roars to knighthood". Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  30. ^ 100 Great Black Britons website.
  31. ^ The University of Edinburgh (2006). "Graduation Ceremonials 2006". Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  32. ^ "Honorands 2012". De Montfort University. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  33. ^ Canterbury Christ Church University (2013). "Honorary Doctorates awarded to leading figures in law, broadcasting and children's literature". Retrieved 2013-02-08. 

External links[edit]