Kirsty Wark

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Kirsty Wark

Kirsty wark podium.jpg
Kirsty Wark at the Innovate'08 Conference
Born
Kirsteen Anne Wark

(1955-02-03) 3 February 1955 (age 66)
Dumfries, Scotland
EducationWellington School, Ayr
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
OccupationTelevision journalist
EmployerBBC
Notable credit(s)
Newsnight
Spouse(s)
Alan Clements
(m. 1989)
Children2

Kirsteen Anne "Kirsty" Wark FRSE (born 3 February 1955) is a Scottish journalist, newsreader, and television presenter, best known for fronting BBC Two's news and current affairs programme Newsnight since 1993, and its weekly arts spin-off Newsnight Review (later The Review Show) from 2002 to 2014.

Early life[edit]

Wark was born in Dumfries, Scotland, to Jimmy Wark, a solicitor, and Roberta Wark, a schoolteacher. Wark was educated at Kilmarnock Grammar Primary[1] and subsequently Ayr's independent Wellington School.[2] She studied history, specifically Scottish Studies, at the University of Edinburgh.[3]

Television and radio career[edit]

Wark joined the BBC in 1976 as a graduate researcher for BBC Radio Scotland, before promotion a year later as producer of Good Morning Scotland and current affairs programmes.[4]

Wark switched to television in 1982, producing Reporting Scotland and the lunchtime political programme Agenda and current affairs series Current Account. She then moved into presenting, fronting Reporting Scotland, Seven Days, Left, Right and Centre and Scottish Questions coverage for BBC Scotland,[4] before moving to network television as part of the Breakfast Time presenting team. In 1988, she was one of the first reporters to cover the Lockerbie disaster. In 1990, Wark demonstrated her distinctive line of questioning in an interview with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Wark was a presenter on BBC2 arts programme The Late Show (from 1990–3) and the heritage programme One Foot in the Past. In 1999, she presented The Kirsty Wark Show, her own interview programme. Wark has been a presenter on the BBC programme Newsnight since 1993.

During the 1990s, she presented many programmes produced by her production company Wark Clements & Co, including Words With Wark, Restless Nation, Building A Nation and Lives Less Ordinary.

In 2006, she presented a series of programmes on BBC television about countries on the continent entitled Tales from Old Europe. In June 2006 she interviewed Harold Pinter.[5] Wark hosted the 10th annual Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards on 30 November 2007 for STV. She made a cameo appearance in the 2008 Doctor Who episode "The Poison Sky". She replaced David Baddiel as host of the BBC Four programme The Book Quiz in 2008 and hosted a BBC Two quiz show, A Question of Genius, which ran from 2009 to 2010. In 2011 she was chosen to host a BBC food quiz show entitled A Question of Taste, pitting two teams of food fanatics against one another.

Wark participated in the 2011 series of Celebrity MasterChef where she reached the final and narrowly lost out to Phil Vickery. On 1 January 2012, Wark appeared in a cameo role as herself in the revival of the BBC's Absolutely Fabulous. In January 2013 she appeared in a special series of The Great British Bake Off, where she was awarded Star Baker.[6] Later that year, she made a cameo appearance in two episodes of The Politician's Husband which aired on BBC Two.

Wark has been visible and vocal in the media about her experience of menopause and helped to raise awareness of this aspect of women's health more widely.[7] In 2017 she made a BBC documentary 'Let's talk about the menopause' because she felt that women are still "shockingly ill-informed" [8]

In 2018, Margarita Simonyan, the Russia Today journalist who interviewed the two Russian suspects of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal terminated an interview with Wark. It came after Wark challenged "the manner of the interview" and asked if the interview didn't just reinforce the notion that RT was a 'propaganda tool of the Russian state.' Simonyan said Wark's questions seemed "like typical Western propaganda."[9] Since 2020, she has presented the BBC Radio 4 series "The Reunion". She has also, on occasion, presented "Start the Week" on BBC Radio 4.

In 2021, Wark was one of the main presenters of the BBC's election results coverage, alongside Huw Edwards. She presented from Edinburgh with the programme covering results from all the UK elections that took place on Thursday 6th May 2021 including the 2021 Scottish Parliament election and local council elections in England.

Honours and awards[edit]

Wark was named journalist of the year by BAFTA Scotland in 1993 and Best Television Presenter in 1997. She was also nominated for the prestigious Richard Dimbleby Award for Best Television Presenter (Factual, Features and News) in the BAFTAS 2000.

She was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by The Guardian in March 2013.[10] Wark was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[11] in March 2017.

Public controversies[edit]

Wark is regarded as being close to the Labour Party.[12][13][14] Donald Dewar, Scottish Labour politician and former First Minister of Scotland, a close friend, appointed her to the Scottish Parliament Building Design Selection Panel, which chose Enric Miralles' design for the new parliament. Questioned by the Fraser Inquiry, set up to investigate the building's cost overruns, she said: "There was no way that we were making a decision on economically the most advantageous tender; you would have ended up with a shed . . . it was [about] getting a building which was the most exciting, innovative building . . ."[15] In 2003, Wark-Clements produced a film on the building, with critics accusing Wark of a conflict of interest.[16]

In January 2005, she invited Labour MSP Jack McConnell, then Scotland's First Minister, and his family to stay at her Majorcan holiday home over the New Year period. McConnell, a long-time friend of Wark and husband Clements before holding office, was cleared of any improprieties when the Scottish Parliament's Standards Committee deemed he received no financial benefits from the holidays. Wark's editor on Newsnight offered his support, stating "Many people in the media have friends who have gone on to hold office. The important issue is your ability to ask tough questions and that is not a problem with Kirsty Wark or anybody else on the programme."

Wark and Clements were the subject of media coverage regarding his use of Wark's former PA to monitor emails covertly at RDF Media after he left following an acrimonious dispute about a non-compete deal.[17]

In June 2007, Wark clashed with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in an interview,[18] over his response to a memorandum of understanding between the UK Government and Libya regarding prisoner exchanges. Salmond feared that this could include Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was convicted by a Scottish court in the Netherlands for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.[19] The BBC received 120 formal complaints, and issued a public apology to Salmond regretting Wark's "rude and dismissive" tone; Salmond accepted the BBC's apology.[20] According to the BBC, viewers questioned the premise of the interview and that Wark's line of questioning was too aggressive and therefore discourteous.[21] According to Newsnight editor Peter Barron, time constraints forced Wark to end the questioning abruptly, leading him to perceive her behaviour as "rude and dismissive".[21]

In October 2013, Wark interviewed Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald about his reporting of the NSA and GCHQ cyber-spying programs leaked by Edward Snowden.[22] The interview was seen as openly hostile in which "Wark unabashedly made the case for the prosecution, interrogating Greenwald about his reporting and Edward Snowden."[23] Greenwald later wrote that Wark and other journalists have focused "almost entirely on the process questions surrounding the reporting rather than the substance of the revelations" about NSA surveillance and privacy invasions "and in the process made some quite dubious claims that come straight from the mouths of government officials".[24]

Wark attracted further controversy in relation to Alex Salmond in 2020. She presented a documentary on Salmond's trial where he stood accused of multiple sexual assault charges but was acquitted on all counts. The documentary aired several months after the end of the trial and featured both supporters and detractors of Alex Salmond reflecting on the case, including some of the women who accused Salmond speaking for the first time. The programme received over 900 complaints from those who believed it was biased against Salmond. However, the BBC noted that the outcome of the trial was 'fairly reflected in the programme', with the programme aiming to look at the wider political consequences of the case rather than rerunning Salmond's trial. The BBC also noted that Salmond had been asked to take part in the programme but had refused with the programme containing supporters of the former First Minister such as Jim Sillars and Kenny MacAskill.[25] A later news story suggested that Salmond was considering taking legal action against the BBC, and in some reports, against Wark personally.[26]

Books[edit]

Wark has written two novels, The Legacy Of Elizabeth Pringle and The House By The Loch.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Wark married television producer Alan Clements (born 1961) in September 1989,[28] after meeting on the BBC Scotland programme Left, Right, and Centre. They have a daughter (born 1990) and a son (born 1992). They founded independent TV production company Wark-Clements in 1990, which in May 2004 was merged with fellow Scots broadcaster Muriel Gray's Ideal World to form IWC Media. In December 2005, Wark and Gray severed their connections with IWC Media after RDF Media bought the company.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "My Best Teacher;Interview;Kirsty Wark". Tes.com. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Some former pupils show the way". The Herald. 6 October 1998. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  3. ^ Sale, Jonathan (6 March 1997). "PASSED/FAILED: Kirsty Wark". The Independent. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Visual Arts Group". Ayrshirarts.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  5. ^ Wark, Kirsty (23 June 2006). "Harold Pinter on Newsnight Review". Newsnight website. BBC Two. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  6. ^ Greenaway, Heather (27 January 2013). "Kirsty Wark crowned star baker after creating 2ft Old Man of Hoy cake for Comic Relief special". Dailyrecord.co.uk. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  7. ^ "'I just coped': Kirsty Wark on breaking the silence about menopause". the Guardian. 15 April 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  8. ^ "Kirsty Wark: 'Let's talk about the menopause'". BBC News. 16 February 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  9. ^ "RT editor hangs up on Newsnight". BBC News.
  10. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess; Mirren, Helen; Huffington, Arianna; Amos, Valerie (28 March 2013). "The 50 best-dressed over 50s". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ "RSE Welcomes 60 New Fellows" (Press release). Royal Society of Edinburgh. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Wark's Labour links- now Tory leaders demand action by BBC". Scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com. 8 January 2005. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  13. ^ Vanessa Thorpe (4 October 2009). "TV debates: So who would chair them?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Kirsty Wark and Jack McConnell". News.scotsman.com. Edinburgh. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  15. ^ Holyrood Inquiry. "Transcript: Wednesday 26 November 2003 (Morning Session)". Retrieved 15 August 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ Peterkin, T; T. Leonard (28 November 2003). "Dispute over Kirsty Wark evidence on Holyrood". News. London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 August 2007.[dead link]
  17. ^ McSmith, Andy (6 November 2007). "Wark and husband investigated for data theft". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  18. ^ "Kirsty Wark - Labour Unionist till the bitter end". YouTube.
  19. ^ Mulholland, H (8 June 2007). "Scottish ministers attack No 10 over Lockerbie bomber". Special Reports. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  20. ^ "US". The Independent.
  21. ^ a b Barron, P. (8 June 2007). "That Salmond interview". The Editors. BBC. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  22. ^ "Glenn Greenwald trashes GCHQ/NSA apologists Kirsty Wark, Pauline Neville-Jones (3 October 2013)". YouTube. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  23. ^ Mirkinson, Jack (4 October 2013). "Glenn Greenwald Faces Off With 'Newsnight' Interviewer in Hostile Clash (VIDEO)". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  24. ^ "The NSA debate is as much about journalism as surveillance | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  25. ^ "The Trial of Alex Salmond, BBC Two, 18 August 2020".
  26. ^ "Alex Salmond 'to sue BBC' over documentary on sexual assault trial, The National, 23 August 2020".
  27. ^ Davies, Stevie (27 March 2014). "The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle review – Kirsty Wark's first novel gleams with beauty". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Match of the day". The Glasgow Herald. 2 October 1989. p. 3. Retrieved 14 April 2019.

External links[edit]