Reporting Scotland stalwart Jackie Bird presented her final bulletin last night after thirty years as the main face of the news programme.
Only a few close colleagues knew it was the presenter’s final shift with the news desk, as she says it’s time to ‘move on’ to other projects with the BBC.
“I’m not leaving the BBC, I’m just vacating the news desk,” she said following the surprise departure.
“I’ve been fortunate to cover most of the major news stories in Scotland over the last 30 years.
“I’ve been planning this for a while. I thought I’d give it until Brexit was sorted, but I fear I might have to stay for another 30 years!
“I’ve been privileged to be involved in so many memorable news events, from seismic political changes to reporting live from Afghanistan. I’ve presented the programme from Washington to Westminster and last year anchoring from France on the centenary of the Armistice was an honour.
“None of this would have been possible without some tremendous colleagues – and it’s them that I will miss most, but it’s time to move on.”
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) April 11, 2019
Ms Bird also fronts many annual Scottish TV events such as Hogmanay, Children in Need and the World Pipe Band contest for the BBC, and says she wants to have more time to present, write and produce projects outwith news in future.
In particular, she says she’s keen to get more involved in current affairs specials similar to those she had presented in recent years, as well as writing for both TV and radio and more in-depth interviews.
“There’s never been a better time to get involved in new TV and radio programmes in Scotland but being committed to Reporting Scotland for so much of my working week simply didn’t allow me the time,” she says.
“I’m actually apprehensive about making such a big change – even last week I considered changing my mind and staying, but it’s something I have to do.”
Senior colleagues at the BBC had urged her to rethink her decision, but Ms Bird’s mind had been made up.
BBC Scotland Head of News, Gary Smith, said: “Jackie is one of the most talented and committed journalists I’ve ever worked with. Her passion and energy for the job are unsurpassed.
“As a TV news presenter, she is the ultimate professional, who copes supremely well with whatever comes her way. She’s also great fun. For many in the newsroom – and the audience across the country – she just IS Reporting Scotland. I’ll miss her, the team in the newsroom will miss her, Scotland will miss her.”
BBC Scotland Director Donalda MacKinnon also paid tribute, saying: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jackie for many years now and it’s been very reassuring for me and for many of us that she’s been at the helm of the country’s most watched news programme.
“She’s a brilliant journalist and multi-talented broadcaster who will, I hope, continue to work with us here at BBC Scotland. She was an inspiration to many female colleagues particularly during her earlier years when newsrooms were largely dominated by men. I am certain that she will continue to inspire and influence in all she does next.”