Selina Mary Scott
13 May 1951
|Occupation||Journalist, newsreader, television producer, television presenter, author|
|Known for||The Sunday Post, North Tonight, News at Ten, Breakfast Time, The Clothes Show, Wogan, West 57th, Sky News, The Selina Scott Show, Sunday Mail (Scotland), Sky Arts 1|
Selina Mary Scott (born 13 May 1951) is a British television presenter who was co-presenter of the first breakfast television programme in the UK before crossing the Atlantic to join West 57th, a prime time current affairs show broadcast from New York. Scott continues to write, and run her lifestyle brand, Naturally Selina Scott.
Scott’s most recent television appearance was on the BBC's The Real Marigold Hotel, shot in Rajasthan, which she had always wanted to visit as her great-great-grandfather (a soldier surgeon) survived the Siege of Lucknow.
Early life and education
Scott was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, in 1951. She read English and American studies at the University of East Anglia, where she was approached by MI5 to join the Secret Service. She declined.
Scott trained on D C Thomson’s The Sunday Post in Dundee, Scotland once lauded in the Guinness World Records as having the "highest per capita readership in the world", before becoming press officer for the Highlands and Islands Tourist board on the Isle of Bute. She made her television debut on the nightly news programme for the regional ITV station Grampian Television, North Tonight in Aberdeen at the height of the North Sea oil boom.
Several months after North Tonight began, Scott, at the age of 29, was headhunted by ITV, appearing first as a newsreader on ITV's News at Ten. In 1982 at the outbreak of the Falklands War, Scott became the Forces' pin-up.
The media quickly recognised that her telegenic looks had immediately connected with the public eighteen months after she first anchored ITV’s News at Ten. She was poached by the BBC to launch Breakfast Time in January 1983, another first in Britain. She presented the show with Frank Bough.
Later, Scott was presenter of the BBC's The Clothes Show (1986-1988) and was guest host on the chat show Wogan. Here she interviewed, amongst many others, Ginger Rogers and Prince Andrew. Prince Andrew, fresh from his exploits as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands War, presented her a section of his helicopter (The Brazen Hussey) on air, and asked her to sign it on behalf of his crew mates. He also asked for her phone number.
It was at this time that Cubby Broccoli, the producer of James Bond, and his director Michael Wilson surreptitiously auditioned Scott for the role of Miss Moneypenny. They asked her to visit their office in the West End of London where she was encouraged to sit on a high stool where they could appraise themselves of her attributes. This was a role Scott later regretted declining, although at the time she felt as though Miss Moneypenny never got her man - it was not a role best suited for her.
Scott appeared on Britain’s first Government authorised satellite service, BSB, before Rupert Murdoch's Sky headhunted her when the two companies merged. There she co-anchored its 1992 election night coverage with Sir David Frost.
Scott has also produced independent documentaries on the Royals in Europe including A Prince Among Islands, a profile of Prince Charles which achieved 14 million viewers, the first in depth interview with King Juan Carlos of Spain, The Year of Spain (which also achieved record viewing figures for a documentary in Spain) and The Return of the King, returning to Greece with King Constantine and his family after 25 years of exile to which the Greek government reacted, menacing their journey by boat through the Greek islands with gunboats and aircraft. This dramatic intervention led not only to national headlines in the UK and Greece but ultimately to King Constantine appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to stop the Greek Government confiscating his passport and his Athens property. A settlement was eventually reached.
In 2007, she took part in the BBC Two series: The Underdog Show to highlight the Dogs Trust Charity for rescued animals. After six weeks of intensive training she was voted the winner with an abandoned wolfhound cross Chump, beating singer Huey Morgan and actress Julia Sawalha in the final.
In October 2008, Scott presented a four-part series for the Sky Arts channel and ITV, Edward Seago — The Forgotten Painter, and included interviews with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; who described how he and Seago explored, on HMS Britannia, a pristine Antarctic soon after the first official royal tour to Australia.
America and Donald Trump
CBS in America hired her for their news show West 57th, which, on one assignment took her to Kenya. For CBS Scott gained exclusive access and revealing interviews with amongst others George Harrison, Prince Charles, Bono of U2 and the world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Scott would go on to anchor her own talk show, The Selina Scott Show for NBC Super Channel.
Whilst in America, Scott interviewed Donald Trump. Her revealing 1995 documentary about Trump was the first major investigation into his honesty. For the first time on television, it exposed his unsubstantiated boasts about wealth and his holdings.
When it aired on ITV, Trump was shocked by its critical tone and threatened Scott with legal action. Trump warned ITV that if they sold the rights to any of the American television stations that were bidding for it, he would tie them up in the courts. ITV complied meaning the US press and public were unable to see the documentary. It also started a long-running feud between Trump and Scott. By 1997, she was back in the UK, signing a contract with Sky reputedly for £1,000,000. She anchored the breakfast programme, later switching to the 5pm news.
Naturally Selina Scott
Scott lives on a 200 acres (81 ha) farm in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where she has created a "nature haven" for threatened species.
She has established a thriving natural fibres business, sourcing sustainable cashmere from the Gobi Desert in Outer Mongolia (a journey she made in 2016 to see for herself how the fibre is produced, and animals raised). Scott lived with the nomads in their Gers and traced the entire process from the rearing of the Cashmere goats to the making of the finished Garment in Ulan Batar before launching to the public.
She is the eldest of five children: her brother Robin (editor of Britain’s best-selling shooting magazine, Sporting Gun) and her sisters Angela, Vanessa, and Fiona, the last a fine art portrait artist, who regularly exhibits at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition in London. In April 2007 Fiona exhibited a long-awaited portrait of her famous sister. Selina purchased the painting.
In a departure from broadcasting, Scott has written her first autobiographical book, A Long Walk in the High Hills: The Story of a House, a Dog and a Spanish Island published in 2010. This book describes how Kendi, her rescued German Shepherd, came to live with her. Scott also has another dog, Nip, a female Border Collie Cross.
With her continuing interest in literature, Scott became Patron of the Charles Dickens Society based in Malton, North Yorkshire, raising a public appeal to buy a rare signed edition of A Christmas Carol at auction in New York. The story of the rescue of the book found in a refuse bin in New York, and its homecoming to the market town of Malton (where the character of Scrooge and his Counting House was reputedly based) made national headlines.
In March 2012, Scott was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Journalism degree from the University of Hull, a return to academia after gaining her degree in American Studies and English at the University of East Anglia.
Today, Scott is an active campaigner for causes such as animal welfare and wildlife conservation, spearheading a campaign to ban the live transportation of animals in Europe post Brexit. A campaign which achieved over 100,000 signatures to initiate a debate in Parliament.
In August 2008, Scott announced her intention to sue Channel Five, a UK television station, for age discrimination. She claimed Five reneged on an agreement for her to return to News because she was "too old". Scott hired Simon Smith of Schillings, and Five denied the claim. A preliminary hearing began on 24 September 2008 with a full five-day hearing scheduled for December 2008. On 5 December 2008 she won, with Five issuing a public apology and making a confidential out-of-court financial settlement. It was later reported that she accepted the offer, despite publicly declaring she would have her day in court, as her father had become seriously ill in December. He died on Christmas Eve and she wanted to be at his side and felt unable to continue the action as planned.
In April 2009, Scott wrote a two-piece article for the Daily Mail documenting her experience of ageism, legal action and her father's deteriorating health and death. This piece also records her view of the National Health Service and what she believed were its failings in caring for him.
Following her claim against ageism, Age UK and Equal Justice, a legal firm, commissioned Scott to compile a report investigating the employment of women over 50 years old at the BBC. The report was delivered to Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust and Jeremy Hunt, the shadow Culture and Media Secretary in April 2010. In summary the report accuses the BBC of institutional ageism against older women.
- President: Malton Food Lovers Festival
- Patron: Charles Dickens (Malton) Society
- Patron: Animals Worldwide
- Patron: National Star College
- "Ness Org'".
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- Scott, Selina (13 April 2009). "My father was thrown out of the ward with the words: 'I want him out of here in half an hour'". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- The Times 4 April 2010 Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
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