Black British women pioneers: Moira Stuart OBE

Who are they?

Moria Stuart is the first black African-Caribbean woman to appear on British television as a news reader / British presenter and broadcaster for the BBC in 1981. Besides Barbara Blake-Hannah, a Jamaican journalist, who appeared as an on-camera reporter and interviewer on Thames Television’s evening news program in 1968.

Born Moira Clare Ruby Stuart in London, September 2nd 1949, Moira was brought up by Bajan and Dominican parents. She is also cousins with Margaret Busby. Stuart was educated in North London until aged 13, then her family moved to Bermuda until Moira returned to the U.K aged 15 to attend college.

Image: Olya & Richard on Flickr ‘British Council Student Awards: Moira’

What did she do?

She worked as a production assistant in the radio talks and documentaries department in the 1970s, then had her first assignment in front of the camera in 1981 as a co-presenter. Her career passes over four decades, where she was a newsreader for both BBC Radio 4 and later, the BBC Radio 2 ‘Chris Evans Breakfast Show’ in 2010. Stuart also hosted her own music show, ‘Music Until Midnight’, every Sunday night on Radio 2. She received an Honorary doctorate in 2013 from Canterbury Christ Church University, following an Honorary Doctor of Letters from De Montfort University the year before (2012). Stuart went onto join Classics FM as a morning news presenter from February 2019 then moved to hosting her Saturday show, ‘Moira Stuart’s Hall of Fame Concert’, as a weekend presenter from July 2019. In March 2020, Stuart received the Harvey Lee award from the Broadcasting Press Guild in recognition for “her five decades of outstanding broadcasting, including news presentation on BBC radio and television, documentaries, entertainment shows and her current news and music programmes on Classic FM“.

She has presented on every BBC news bulletin since 1981, apart from the ‘Ten O’Clock News’. She appeared on an episode of ‘who do you think you are?’ (series 1, episode 6) in 2004. Moira also presented on ‘Sunday AM’ with Andrew Marr until April 2007. Stuart’s twenty-six-year career with BBC Television news closed in October 2007, after she had done thirty-four years of BBC television and radio. She later returned from 2010 when Chris Evans brought her back for his show until 2018, as referenced above. She has made numerous television appearances including Ricky Gervais’ show ‘Extras’ in 2006 playing a comic version of herself, hosting ‘Have I Got News For You’ in June 2007, and appearing on ‘Would I Lie To You?’ in July 2015.

Image: Museum of Portable Sound on Twitter

Why is she important?

With her number of media personality awards and achievements over the last four to five decades, with her television and radio career following suit, Moira Stuart is an example of the great Black British history that stands and continues to this day. As the first black woman newsreader in Britain, Stuart’s success since then is an inspiration that no ceiling is too high, especially to black women creatives.

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