Moira Clare Ruby Stuart
2 September 1949
Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
|Occupation||Presenter, newsreader, radio host|
|BBC News, Classic FM (UK)|
|Parent(s)||Harold Stuart |
|Relatives||Clara Marguerite Christian (grandmother)|
Margaret Busby (cousin)
Moira Clare Ruby Stuart OBE (born 2 September 1949) is a British presenter and broadcaster, who was the first African-Caribbean female newsreader to appear on British television, having worked on BBC News since 1981.
In a career that spans four decades, she has presented many television news and radio programmes for the BBC and was the newsreader for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. She hosts on the station her own music show every Sunday from 23:00 till midnight, featuring "timeless classics" over the past 60 years.
Moira Stuart was born in the Royal Free Hospital, London, on 2 September 1949, to Dominican-Bajan African-Caribbean parents. 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 the age of 15 to London, where she attended college.
Stuart began working with the BBC in the 1970s and was a production assistant in the radio Talks and Documentaries department. 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.
TV news career
Since 27 August 1981, Stuart has presented on every news bulletin devised on BBC Television 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 its successor 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.
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."
In April 2007 it was announced that Stuart would be leaving Sunday AM, resulting in the loss of a regular slot on broadcast TV. This prompted an angry backlash from press and colleagues who accused the BBC of ageism and sexism. 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. 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."
Stuart's 26-year career with BBC Television News was brought to a close on 3 October 2007, when the BBC announced her departure. 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."
On 21 November 2009, it was reported in The Guardian that Chris Evans was "lining up" Stuart to read the news bulletins on his new BBC Radio 2 show from January 2010, when he was due to inherit the slot from Terry Wogan. 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. She presented her last bulletins for the show on 14 December 2018.
It was subsequently announced that she had joined Classic FM, from February 2019, to present the news on weekdays during the breakfast show, and from July 2019 would be presenting her own Saturday afternoon show, Moira Stuart’s Hall of Fame Concert.
A keen music lover, Stuart deputised for Humphrey Lyttelton on his BBC Radio 2 Best of Jazz programme, has participated in the BBC Jazz Awards as compère, and features as a narrator on Soweto Kinch's 2006 jazz-rap album A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block.
Stuart has served on various boards and judging panels including Amnesty International, the Royal Television Society, BAFTA, United Nations Association, the Orange Prize, the London Fair Play Consortium, the Human Genetics Advisory Commission, the Queen's Anniversary Prize, and the Grierson Trust.
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. 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."
On 2 June 2007, she hosted the BBC One topical news quiz show Have I Got News for You, 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.
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. She alternates this Sunday-night slot with Oscar-winning songwriter Don Black. She has also presented music documentary series for Radio 2, including Strong and Sassy - Inspiring Women of Jazz (featuring Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, Adelaide Hall, Anita O'Day and Lena Horne) and Jazz Guitar Greats.
Her mother Marjorie Gordon (1921–2017), who was born in Dominica, and her father Harold Stuart (1914–66), a Barbadian lawyer, divorced when Stuart was 10 months old. Her uncle was the singer Ken Gordon, who was a member, with George Browne, of the vocal trio Three Just Men. Her cousin is the Ghana-born publisher and editor Margaret Busby.
Talking about her ancestry, Stuart has said that she is from a "long line of outsiders" and that she considers herself "a true mongrel – and proud of it". For the 2004 edition of Who Do You Think You Are? in which she featured, she travelled up to the Scottish Highlands, as well as to Antigua (where her great-great-grandfather was enslaved) and to Dominica, where her great-grandfather George James Christian was born. Christian was a delegate at the 1900 First Pan-African Conference in London (making a speech that was reported in The Times, about the treatment of South Africans in the Boer War), before migrating to the Gold Coast, West Africa.
During the programme, she discovered the story of how her maternal grandfather Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon met his wife Clara Christian when both were studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where she was the first black woman student. While he completed his degree and qualified as a doctor in 1918 (initially going into practice in Kingussie, Scotland), Stuart's grandmother did not finish medical studies, using money intended for her course to pay their bills instead. The couple ultimately settled in Bermuda, where in addition to being a physician Gordon became a parliamentarian, civil-rights activist and labour leader. 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
- 1988 voted "Best Newscaster of the Year" (1988) by the TV and Radio Industries Club Awards.
- 1989 voted "Best Television Personality" by the Women of Achievement Awards.
- 1994 named "Best Female Television Personality" by the Black Journalists' Association.
- 1997 named "Best Media Personality" by The Voice newspaper.
- 2001 appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting.
- 2002 named "Media Personality of 2002" at the EMMA Awards.
- 2003 named one of 100 Great Black Britons.
- 2006 received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, the university where her grandparents met.
- 2008 named "Oldie Autocutie of the Year" for her outstanding contribution to television by The Oldie magazine.
- 2012 awarded the degree Honorary Doctor of Letters by De Montfort University.
- 2013 received an honorary doctorate from Canterbury Christ Church University.
- "Moira Stuart". Who Do You Think You Are? – Past Stories. BBC One. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- "Dr E.F. Gordon's Son Ken Gordon Dies At 86", Bernews, 7 November 2013.
- Hugo Rifkind (6 June 2007). "The age of Moira". The Times. London. Retrieved 8 June 2007.
- "Black History", BBC.
- BBC News (6 January 2010). "Moira Stuart lands Radio 2 role". Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "Episode Guide", Moira Stuart page, BBC Radio 2.
- Classic FM (17 December 2018). "Moira Stuart joins Classic FM". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
- Elizabeth Sanderson, "Moira Stuart's first interview for 20 years, the REAL star of Chris Evans's breakfast show", Daily Mail, 21 February 2010.
- Moira Stuart biography at The Chris Evans Breakfast Show website.
- Every Generation (2004). "100 Great Black Britons – Moira Stuart". Archived from the original on 18 October 2006. Retrieved 22 October 2006.
- "Moira Stuart to leave BBC News" (Press release). BBC. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2007.
- BBC News (27 March 2007). "Moira Stuart loses BBC News slot". Retrieved 27 March 2007.
- Gordon Rayner and Tom Kelly, "Paxman to the rescue as the Save Moira campaign speeds up", Daily Mail, 4 April 2007.
- Jonathan Brown (25 April 2007). "End of era for news readers as BBC dashes Moira's hopes". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 27 April 2007.
- "Thompson defends Moira Stuart axing". Digital Spy. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
- Tara Conlan (9 May 2007). "ITV wants Moira Stuart". The Guardian. London.
- Sally Hillier (14 April 2009). "Allow me to apologise, says departing news boss Horrocks". Ariel. 2009 (week 15). p. 4.
- John Plunkett (21 November 2009). "Chris Evans lines up Moira Stuart to read news on Radio 2 breakfast show". The Guardian. London.
- Daniel Macadam (6 January 2010). "Moira Stuart returns to read news on Chris Evans show". Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- "Moira Stuart to join Classic FM", BBC News, 17 December 2018.
- Roy Martin, "Classic FM signs newsreader and presenter Moira Stuart", Radio Today, 17 December 2018.
- Freddy Mayhew, "Moira Stuart moving to Classic FM to read morning news", Press Gazette, 17 December 2018.
- "Broadcasting legend Moira Stuart joins Classic FM", Classic FM, 18 December 2018.
- Ian Mann, "A Life in the Day of B19: Tales from the Tower Block" (review), The Jazz Man, 30 November 2006.
- "Moira Stuart to front money advice show", Broadcast, 11 September 2002.
- "Agent's Bio". Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- "'Who Do You Think You Are?' Moira Stuart (2004)", IMDb.
- "Ronnie Corbett: 'I only snorted cocaine with Ricky Gervais because Moira Stewart was my drug dealer'", Daily Mirror, 29 August 2010.
- "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.
- "Moira Stuart is adamant: I'm not revealing my age". Mail Online. London. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
- "Newsreader opens school extension", Derbyshire Times, 28 November 2007.
- "Moira Stuart new face of tax ads", BBC News, 24 September 2008.
- Gillian Reynolds, "Moira Stuart triumphs as Radio 2's chic presenter", The Telegraph, 12 March 2014.
- "Episodes", Strong and Sassy - Inspiring Women of Jazz, BBC Radio 2.
- Jazz Guitar Greats, BBC Radio 2.
- "Does Moira Stewart like to eat a jacket potato with a melted Kitkat on top?", Would I Lie to You?, BBC One, 24 July 2015.
- "Head girl with a subversive streak Profile: Moira Stuart". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
- Cyrus Engineer,"'Always the quiet ones' John Humphrys left red-faced over awkward Moira Stuart story", Daily Express, 2 September 2016.
- Jonathan Bell, "‘Her warmth drew people to her’", The Royal Gazette, 20 October 2017.
- Owain Johnston-Barnes, "Musician son of national hero Dr EF Gordon dies at 86", The Royal Gazette, 7 November 2013.
- The Literator, "Cover Stories: Sue Freestone; Margaret Busby; Zadie Smith", The Independent, 16 June 2006.
- Thomson Fontaine, "George James Christian: Pioneer in Africa", TheDominican.net, Volume No. 1, Issue No. 32, 27 November 2002.
- Gary Crosby, "RIP Ken Gordon (1927-2013)", 9 November 2013.
- "Who Do You Think You Are? – Moira Stuart". BBC Press Office. 24 September 2014.
- "Moira Stuart", Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.
- Kathryn Flett, "Grimewatch", The Observer, 21 November 2004.
- "Dr. Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon", Bermuda Bios.
- Allman, Esme (2018). "Clara Marguerite Christian". UncoverED – A collaborative decolonial research project.
- "Moira Stuart". Edge Entertainment Agency. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- BBC News (16 June 2001). "Jackie Stewart roars to knighthood". Retrieved 22 October 2006.
- 100 Great Black Britons website.
- The University of Edinburgh (2006). "Graduation Ceremonials 2006". Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- "Honorands 2012". De Montfort University. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Canterbury Christ Church University (2013). "Honorary Doctorates awarded to leading figures in law, broadcasting and children's literature". Retrieved 8 February 2013.