Kay Burley

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Kay Burley
Burley in 2021
Kay Elizabeth McGurrin

(1960-12-17) 17 December 1960 (age 63)
Wigan, Lancashire, England
  • Broadcaster
  • writer
Notable credits
  • Steve Burley (m. c. 1980, divorced)[1]
  • Steve Kutner (m. c. 1993; div. c. 1994)[1][2]
PartnerGeorge Pascoe-Watson (c. 2004 – 2009)[1]

Kay Elizabeth Burley (née McGurrin; born 17 December 1960) is an English broadcaster. She is a presenter on Sky News and hosts Kay Burley, the breakfast slot on the channel. She has also worked for BBC Local Radio, Tyne Tees Television, and TV-am.

Early life[edit]

Born on 17 December 1960,[3][4] Burley was brought up in Beech Hill, Wigan, Lancashire,[5][6] the daughter of parents who worked in a cardboard-making factory.[7] She attended Whitley High School (closed 1990).[8][9]

She began her reporting-career at age 17, working for the Wigan Evening Post and Chronicle.[3][4]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Burley presenting Sky News with Adam Boulton during the 2010 general election

Burley worked for BBC local radio and Tyne Tees Television,[3] before joining TV-am in 1985 as a reporter and occasional newsreader. From 1987, she presented TV-am's first hour, filling in for Caroline Righton and covering for Anne Diamond during their maternity leave.[10]

Burley was recruited by Andrew Neil,[11] and joined Sky Television, launching the Sky One Entertainment Channel in November 1988 with her own documentary, The Satellite Revolution.[3] She moved to the fledgling Sky News in 1988.

She was part of the team that covered the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, on Sky, breaking the news of the princess's death shortly after 5 a.m. on Sunday 31 August 1997. She broke the first UK news of the September 11 attacks, shortly after the first tower had been hit. She fronted Sky News coverage from Sri Lanka following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami. In 2005, she was prominent in Sky News's coverage of both the general election and the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In 2013, she fronted the coverage of the birth of Prince George.

Burley is an occasional contributor to the tabloid Sunday Mirror, and in the summer of 2006 appeared occasionally on Channel 5's news bulletins. She has stood in for Iain Dale on his Sunday Politics show on London talk radio station LBC 97.3[12] and joined LBC Radio on 23 March 2014 along with The Sun's managing editor Stig Abell to present a show from 8 to 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Burley was a contestant for the second series of the ITV reality television show Dancing on Ice, beginning on 20 January 2007.[13] She skated for MacMillan Cancer Care, in memory of her mother, who had died of breast cancer.[14] She gave her appearance fee to the charity. Burley and her partner, Fred Palascak, went out of the show in the fifth week, after competing against actress Clare Buckfield and her partner, Andrei Lipanov.[15][16] She appeared on the second series of Celebrity Hunted, in 2018.

In September 2018, it was announced that Kay Burley would have her own show on Sky News, The Kay Burley Show.[17]

In September 2019, it was announced that Burley would be moving to breakfast time to host Kay Burley @Breakfast.[18] On 3 October 2019, Burley hosted her final afternoon show on the channel ahead of the first morning slot on 14 October 2019.[19]

On 10 December 2020, Burley was suspended from presenting her eponymous show for six months, because she had breached London's tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.[20] Before then, she had scrutinised those who had broken the rules over the previous six months.[21][22] On 7 June 2021, Burley returned to the channel with a simple greeting, "it's great to be back", before reporting the news headlines.[23]



In a 2008 interview with the former girlfriend of serial killer Steve Wright, Burley was criticised for asking her whether, if the couple had enjoyed a better sex life, he would not have committed the crimes.[4]

Images from 2008 show Burley appearing to strangle photographer Kirsty Wigglesworth outside the Naomi Campbell hearing, which a Sky News spokesperson explained by saying "Kay Burley was provoked by a hard hit to the face with a camera."[24] But the Associated Press said: ‘Kirsty is absolutely sure that she’s not the person who bumped Ms Burley with a camera. She was the victim of an unprovoked and inexcusable attack.’


In February 2010, Burley apologised to guest Peter Andre who "fought back tears" after she aired comments by Dwight Yorke who criticised Andre after he volunteered to adopt Katie Price's first child (Yorke's son and Andre's stepson) Harvey. Burley wrote in her online blog that Andre consequently "sobbed on my shoulder".[25]

During the 2010 general election, Burley's interview with electoral campaigner David Babbs from 38 Degrees was criticised for "bias and aggressive behaviour".[26] Burley said, in part:

The public have voted for a hung parliament. We have got exactly what we voted for ... so you marching down past Westminster today will make no difference whatsoever. ... Why don't you go home and watch it on Sky News?[27]

Ofcom rejected any complaints over Sky News coverage of the event, despite receiving 2,800 complaints.[26] Burley was subsequently heckled by protestors while reporting from College Green, who continuously chanted "sack Kay Burley", prompting Burley to say "Lots of demonstrators shouting 'fair votes now' – not sure what they mean by that" and "They don't like The Sun, they don't like us, they don't like Rupert".[28] In September 2010, commenting on the News International phone hacking scandal, part of an exchange between Labour MP Chris Bryant and Burley went viral, whereby Burley asks Bryant to cite information claiming that phone hacking was "endemic" in other newspapers. Bryant did, accusing Burley of being "a bit dim"[29] and saying:

...the Information Commissioner produced a report which if you had listened to the debate earlier yourself then you would know, or if you had read that report then you would see that he referred to more than 1,000 cases in various different newspapers. I think it was something like 800 – I've not got the figures with me now – 800 incidences in the Mail alone.[29]

Burley also falsely claimed that if he had changed his PIN, Bryant would not have been hacked. Bryant responded in an article for The Independent, saying that "My PIN had nothing to do with my phone being hacked. Someone phoned Orange, my mobile network provider, and tried to pretend to be me in order to gain access to my voicemails".[30] Bryant has since asked on air for Burley to apologise about the interview.[31]


On 5 October 2012, Burley was accused of insensitivity after she broke the news of the probable death of missing five-year-old April Jones live on air to volunteers who had been assisting in the search for her. The interviewees were unaware that the case had become a murder inquiry.[32][33][34]


During the 2015 general election, Channel 4 and Ofcom received more than 400 complaints against bias in their treatment against Labour leader Ed Miliband in favour of Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron, including a "town hall" part of the programme which Burley moderated. Burley repeatedly questioned Ed Miliband about his relationship with his brother David, at one point telling him: "Your poor mother".[35]

In June 2015, Burley was criticised through social media for her interview of Nick Varney, the chief executive of Merlin Entertainments. This followed an accident on The Smiler ride at Alton Towers, which led to injuries for 11 of the 16 passengers. Responses to her behaviour dubbed it "disrespectful to everyone involved" and an "outright attack".[36] In response, Burley tweeted "For those concerned I was hard on Alton Towers boss, he'll get over it. Not sure those on his ride will be so quick to recover".[37] Her interview with Varney began a negative reaction over social media, prompting 1,816 complaints to Ofcom and also led to over 55,000 signatures on a petition to have Burley sacked.[38][39] Ofcom declined to launch a formal investigation into the interview.[40]

In March 2015, Burley repeatedly asked Cerie Bullivant of CAGE how he felt about the beheading of Western hostages by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. When Bullivant left the interview as he believed Burley's question to be "inherently Islamophobic and racist", Burley retorted that it was "nonsense", and told Bullivant to "get over yourself". This prompted 57 complaints to Ofcom, but no action against Burley was taken.[41]

In 2018, during an interview concerning Boris Johnson's remarks about the burqa, Burley drew criticism when she used as an example the lack of visible facial expression of war veteran Simon Weston, who had received severe facial injuries in the Falklands War.[42]

In December 2020, Burley admitted to breaching London's tier 2 coronavirus restrictions when celebrating her 60th birthday. Her actions allegedly included meeting up to nine individuals outside of her household, breaking the 11pm curfew, and socialising inside two restaurants and her own home. Burley was later suspended from Sky News until June 2021, and withdrawn from consideration for the Royal Television Society's journalism awards.[43][44][45]

In March 2022, during an interview with two Ukrainian refugees in Dublin, Burley drew criticism for stating that they can "start to build a new life in Dublin, safe in the knowledge that the British people are completely behind you".[46] Dublin is in the Republic of Ireland, so not part of Britain or the UK.

In February 2023, during the disappearance of Nicola Bulley, Burley presented two breakfast programmes on location from St Michael's on Wyre, one of which involved retracing Nicola's last steps in real time whilst providing commentary. In a statement read out by police on 20 February, Nicola's family condemned the actions of Sky News.

In October 2023 Sky News issued a retraction after Burley misquoted Palestinian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Husam Zomlot multiple times as saying "Israel had it coming" which gave a misleading impression that he believed they deserved it. Her false claims resulted in 1,537 Ofcom complaints.[47][48]

In November 2023 whilst interviewing Israeli spokesperson Eylon Levy she accused Israel of not valuing Palestinian lives as highly as Israeli lives since it agreed to swap 150 Palestinian prisoners for 50 Israeli hostages. [49][50]


Burley's first novel, First Ladies, was published on 12 May 2011. The book is an erotic romance set in the media industry, including television news.[51] One reviewer called it a "turgid mess" which is not even bad enough to be good: "Unfortunately, this book, with its dire comic timing, complete absence of irony, pointless digressions, dull plotting and complete lack of any engaging characters, is so mind-numblingly, fist-chewingly awful, that it's just bad."[52]

Another Burley novel, Betrayal, was published in May 2012.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 2018 Burley participated in Channel 4's Celebrity Hunted and was captured in the penultimate episode.[53]

In an interview with The Telegraph, Burley said she was a keen climber and mountaineer.[54]

Burley is a Roman Catholic.[55]


  1. ^ a b c Graham, Jane (28 July 2013). "Kay Burley Profile: A Cut Above Her Critics". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  2. ^ "Kay Burley: Revenge? It's Probably Best Served After Seven Years". Evening Standard. London. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d "My Life in Media: Kay Burley". The Independent. London. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Hoggard, Liz (11 May 2011). "Kay Burley: Revenge? It's probably best served after seven years". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Kay Burley – How I lost my Wigan accent". Lancashire Life. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  6. ^ Natalie Walker (26 July 2015). "What is wrong with Kay Burley?". Wigan Today. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b Gordon, Bryony (29 May 2012). "Kay Burley: 'I don't want to sit here with a paper bag on my head just because I've turned 50 and I'm getting hot flushes'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Kay Burley: 'It's thanks to Mrs Turner that I became a journalist'". tes. 9 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Whitley High School". Get information about schools. UK Government. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Presenters". TV-am archive and museum. Next Level Interactive. Archived from the original on 12 October 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  11. ^ "This Week". BBC One. BBC. 19 May 2011.
  12. ^ Kay Burley to present shows on LBC 97.3 over Christmas TV Newsroom, 1 December 2012
  13. ^ Daniel Kilkelly (30 December 2006). "New 'Dancing on Ice' contestants announced". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Archived from the original on 12 January 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  14. ^ Dancing On Ice 2007: Kay Burley Dedicates Dance To Deceased Mum Archived 11 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine Unreality TV, 19 January 2007
  15. ^ Neil Kilkelly (30 December 2006). "Tension between 'Ice' stars Ulrika, Kay?". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Archived from the original on 12 January 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  16. ^ Dancing On Ice: Ulrika Jonsson Turns Frosty With Kay Burley! Archived 27 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine Unreality TV, 14 January 2007
  17. ^ "Sky News announces new daytime Kay Burley Show and other schedule changes in bid to give channel 'more personality' – Press Gazette". pressgazette.co.uk. 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  18. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (23 September 2019). "Sky News announces new morning slate as Kay Burley moves to breakfast show". Press Gazette. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  19. ^ Holland, Lisa (3 October 2019). "The legendary KB at the end of her last afternoon show! @KayBurley will be bringing you her brand new breakfast programme very soon!!pic.twitter.com/4cnrNCCFok". @LisaatSky. Twitter. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  20. ^ Bland, Archie (10 December 2020). "Kay Burley off air at Sky News for six months over Covid rule breach". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Kay Burley: Sky News presenter off air for six months after Covid breach". BBC News. 10 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  22. ^ Gregory, Andy (8 December 2020). "Kay Burley on safari in Africa after breaching coronavirus restrictions". The Independent. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Kay Burley returns to Sky News after six-month Covid breach absence". BBC. 7 June 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  24. ^ "'Black eye' Kay Burley may face legal action after grabbing". Evening Standard. 21 June 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Andre's tears prompt complaints". BBC. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  26. ^ a b Sweney, Mark (5 July 2010). "Ofcom rejects complaints over Sky News election coverage". The Guardian.
  27. ^ Quinn, Ben (8 May 2010). "Kay Burley criticised over 'aggressive' interview". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  28. ^ Wells, Matt (8 May 2010). "Sack Kay Burley: top Twitter trend". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  29. ^ a b Jeffery, Simon (9 September 2010). "Chris Bryant accuses Kay Burley of being 'a bit dim'". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  30. ^ Bryant, Chris (9 September 2010). "Chris Bryant MP: My on-air spat with Sky News's Kay Burley". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  31. ^ Chris Bryant MP demands an apology from Kay Burley. TV Newsroom. 12 July 2011. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021.
  32. ^ "Sky News defends Kay Burley over April Jones live interview having been inundated with angry complaints". The Drum. Carnyx Group Limit. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  33. ^ Williams, Rob (5 October 2012). "Sky News presenter, Kay Burley, accused of being 'insensitive bordering on cruel' in interview with April Jones volunteers". The Independent. London. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  34. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (5 October 2012). "April Jones: was Kay Burley right to say family 'don't expect to find her alive'?". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  35. ^ Plunkett, John (27 March 2015). "Cameron and Miliband broadcast gets more than 400 complaints". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  36. ^ Sarah Ann Harris (15 June 2015). "Alton Towers Rollercoaster Crash: Kay Burley Tears into Theme Park's CEO Nick Varney". HuffPost. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  37. ^ "Kay Burley on Twitter: "For those concerned I was hard on Alton Towers boss, he'll get over it. Not sure those on his ride will be so quick to recover #perspective"". Twitter.com. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  38. ^ Nianias, Helen (15 June 2015). "Kay Burley cleared by Ofcom". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  39. ^ "Kay Burley's Sky News Interview With Alton Towers CEO Nick Varney Prompts 33,000 To Sign Petition To Sack Her". Huffingtonpost.co.uk. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  40. ^ Mark Sweney (15 June 2015). "Kay Burley's Alton Towers interview cleared as petition tops 55,000". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  41. ^ Plunkett, John (30 March 2015). "Kay Burley will not face Ofcom inquiry after Islamophobia accusation". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  42. ^ Owen, Cathy (8 August 2018). "Kay Burley asks MP if he's offended by war veteran Simon Weston's burned face". WalesOnline. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  43. ^ "Sky News presenter Kay Burley breaks Covid rules". The Independent. 8 December 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  44. ^ "Kay Burley: Sky News presenter apologises for Covid breach". BBC News. 8 December 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  45. ^ "Kay Burley dropped for award consideration after Covid breach". The Guardian. 8 December 2020.
  46. ^ "Ukrainian refugees appear to correct Kay Burley after she says they could 'build new life in Dublin, safe in knowledge British people are behind you'". Independent.ie. 15 March 2022. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  47. ^ "Kay Burley's remarks about Palestinian ambassador 'potentially misleading'". Independent.co.uk. 21 October 2023.
  48. ^ "Sky News apologises after claiming guest said 'Israel had it coming'". 21 October 2023.
  49. ^ "HEIGHT OF STUPIDITY: UK Host Claims Israel Devalues Palestinians by Swapping 1 Captive for 3 Prisoners [VIDEO] – the Yeshiva World". 23 November 2023.
  50. ^ https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/israeli-govt-spokesmans-reply-to-uk-hosts-question-about-hostage-deal-goes-viral/ [bare URL]
  51. ^ Kay Burley delivers literary lesson in romance guardian.co.uk, 28 March 2011
  52. ^ "Review: First Ladies by Kay Burley". totalpolitics.com. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014.
  53. ^ Timms, Katie (13 November 2018). "Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer wins Celebrity Hunted". PlymouthLive. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  54. ^ Burley, Kay (21 October 2019). "Kay Burley: Why I've ditched jogging in the park to become a menopausal mountaineer". The Telegraph – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  55. ^ Millar, Paul (18 February 2010). "Burley apologises for Catholic symbol error". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 6 May 2010.

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