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Stuart, Moira (1952-)


Main image of Stuart, Moira (1952-)

In an industry (television news) where the participants (news presenters) are constantly under the scrutiny of the masses, one of the most reliable and reputable figures has been Moira Stuart. During her three-decade career she has only stirred the national headlines twice: her warmly applauded arrival on the British TV news scene in 1981 and her startlingly premature departure from national television in 2007.

She began as a production secretary in the BBC's Talks and Documentaries department in 1972, then as Radio 4 announcer-newsreader and, in the late 1970s, on Radio 2. Although enjoying the anonymity of radio, she became a TV newsreader co-presenting the extended lunchtime News After Noon (BBC, 1981-86) on 7 September 1981. Swept in by the fervour of the national press, she was introduced to the public as Britain's first black (Afro-Caribbean) female newsreader, a label she clearly found rather grating and uncomfortable.

Her earliest television experience was acting in the children's science fiction game show series The Adventure Game (BBC, 1980-86). Her professionalism has served The Nine O'Clock News (BBC, 1970-2000), Sixty Minutes (BBC, 1983-84), the Six O'Clock News (BBC, 1984- ) and the BBC Breakfast News (1989-97); while on a more casual basis her easy-going personality has contributed to Call My Bluff (BBC, 1965-88; 1994-2004), Comic Relief (BBC, tx. 10/3/1989), Have I Got News for You (BBC, 1990- ) and a brief but memorable cameo in Extras (BBC, tx. 5/10/2006).

The seemingly callous axing of Stuart by the BBC from her long-trusted role as news presenter of the Sunday AM programme (BBC, 2005-2007; renamed The Andrew Marr Show from 2007) created a national outcry from powerful political and broadcasting figures who united in protest against her departure. Ultimately, Stuart left the BBC, quietly and gracefully, in October 2007.

Tise Vahimagi

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