For years the calm and authoritative voice of the news on BBC TV and radio, the much-loved Moira Stuart turns 70 today.
Having worked on BBC News since 1981, she was the first African-Caribbean female newsreader on British television and quickly became a favourite with viewers, much admired for her clear and composed delivery of the day’s biggest events.
Born in London on September 2nd, 1949, Moira Clare Ruby Stuart was educated in the capital until the age of 13, when she moved with her family to Bermuda. However, she returned to London two years later and attended college there. She began working for the BBC in the 1970s, starting as a production assistant in the department producing talks and documentaries for radio.
Her distinctive speaking voice soon saw her trained as a continuity announcer and then newsreader on both Radio 4 and Radio 2. She also played a character in a short-lived BBC game show, “The Adventure Game”, in 1980, before making the move to TV news presenting the following year.
Since August 1981, Moira has presented on every timeslot news bulletin on BBC TV except the Ten O’Clock News. She also presented bulletins on the Sunday morning “Breakfast with Frost” programme and its successor, “Sunday AM” with Andrew Marr. After 26 years’ involvement in BBC TV news and 34 years in TV and radio combined, her departure was announced by the BBC in October 2007.
That led to Moira making the news herself, when colleagues and press reporters accused the BBC of getting rid of her and other older presenters in a bid to attract younger audiences. The BBC denied the claims of ‘ageism’, saying the changes marked a shift towards news programming being presented more by trained journalists who could interact with guests and interviewees, rather than by traditional newsreaders.
Two years later it was announced that presenter Chris Evans was lining up Moira Sturt as the regular newsreader on his BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show, after taking over from Terry Wogan. She held that role from January 2010 to December 2018, becoming a firm fixture in the show and a favourite with listeners. Earlier this year, she began presenting the breakfast show news bulletins on independent national radio station Classic FM.
By now she was a noted media personality in her own right, presenting on other consumer-based TV shows, hosting an edition of topical news quiz “Have I Got News for You”, guesting on other panel shows and playing a comedy version of herself in the popular Ricky Gervais comedy “Extras”. As a keen music lover, she also began presenting her own easy-listening radio shows, giving listeners a new insight into her warm personality and especially her love of jazz.
In 2004 she took part in the BBC geneaology documentary series “Who Do You Think You Are?”. It saw her travel to the Scottish Highlands and Antigua to research her ancestors’ lives, becoming visibly emotional on learning of their deprivations in the Atlantic slave trade and their fight for human rights and social justice. With a richly mixed heritage, she has described herself as “a true mongrel… and proud of it!”.
Over the years she has won several awards for best newscaster, TV personality, media personality and for her contribution to the media. She holds honorary doctorates from two universities and in 2001 was presented with an OBE for services to broadcasting in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Today, as she celebrates her 70th birthday, we wish Moira Stuart all the very best now and for many years to come.