Moira Clare Ruby Stuart OBE (born 2 September 1949) is a British presenter, who was the first African-Caribbean female newsreader on British television. She has presented many television news and radio programmes for the BBC and is currently the newsreader for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2.
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Awards and achievements
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Moira Stuart was born in the Royal Free Hospital, London, on 2 September 1949, to 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 age 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 after briefly reading the news for BBC Radio 1.
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 Frostprogramme each Sunday and the following 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'sSunday 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.
"Throughout her 30-plus years at the BBC, 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."Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News
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 colleagueswho 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" Moira Stuart to read the news bulletins on his new BBC Radio 2 show in 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.
A keen music lover, Stuart deputised for Humphrey Lyttelton on his BBC Radio 2 Best of Jazz programme, has participated in the British Jazz Awards as compère, and features as a narrator on a jazz-rap album by Soweto Kinch.
Stuart has served on various boards and judging panels including Amnesty International, The Royal Television Society, United Nations Association, the Orange Prize, the London Fair Play Consortium and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission.
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 theslave 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 2008, 2009 and 2010, she appeared in a series of advertisements for HMRC promoting tax-return procedures.
Stuart's mother, Marjorie Gordon (born 1921) from Dominica, and her father Harold Stuart (1914–66), a Barbadian, divorced when she was ten months old. Stuart's uncle was the singer Ken Gordon, who was a member, with George Browne, of the vocal trio Three Just Men. Talking about her ancestry, Stuart says she is from a "long line of outsiders" and that she considers herself "a true mongrel — and proud of it". In Who Do You Think You Are?, she travelled up to the Scottish Highlands, as well as to Antigua and to Dominica, where her great-grandfather George James Christian was born. During the programme, Stuart discovered the story of how her grandfather Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon met his wife Clara Christian while both were studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. While her grandfather completed his degree and qualified in 1918, Stuart's grandmother did not finish her studies, using money intended to pay for her course to pay their bills instead. 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.
- 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 for services to broadcasting in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
- 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.