When the world ends, we’d at least like to be told about it by MOIRA STUART, whose terribly reassuring manner would make us feel a bit better about it.
Moira may seem a strange person to include in our countdown, but we think there are few other people who became such a familiar fixture on our screens over three decades. Also we need some more women in this chart.
Moira started on Radio 4, where she was the first black person ever to read the news on the station in 1978, combining it with other announcing work and occasional acting including, famously, a recurring role in The Adventure Game, one of the ultimate Creamy TV shows.
Her thespanism didn’t last long, though, because in 1981 she started reading the news on the telly, the first black woman ever to do so. Her incredible unflappable approach, matched with impeccable diction and huge hair, meant she soon stood out and, when Richard Baker retired at the end of 1982, she moved from the lunchtime slot to the teatime bulletin , establishing herself as one of the most trusted and popular newsreaders of them all.
You wouldn’t catch her being flustered by a lightbulb exploding over her like silly old Jan Leeming did, she would simply continue in her warm but authoritative manner, with no need for fripperies:
Over the next two decades she read the news at all hours of the day on virtually every variant of news bulletin devised, and all her colleagues spoke of her exceptional coolness and expert pronunciation, always doing her homework to get those complicated foreign names right.
However, by the turn of the century the old idea of the simple newsreader was seen as old hat, with the trend now for multi-skilling journalists who could interview and report, rather than simply deliver a script, no matter how impeccably. Happily she found a new role as the newsreader on Breakfast for a while, before being dropped from that in 2007 and therefore having no regular BBC gigs, although the BBC were at pains to point out that although she was a middle-aged black woman it definitely wasn’t ageist, racist or sexist, honest.
But Moira bounced back, first in those tax ads, once more illustrating that if Moira tells up to jump in the fire, we’ll do it, and then as part of Chris Evans’ Radio 2 gang, where she again reads the news with her excellent diction and gets to do a few gags as well. And no matter how grim the news, everything always feel right with Moira to tell us about it.
THE DEFINING ROLE: Well, reading the news, obviously, although professionally she was probably at her peak in the Chinese lantern era of the mid-eighties, blazing a trail for women and black people in news broadcasting.Read More