Journalist Jackie Bird says farewell to news desk at Pacific Quay
By Bill Heaney
Jackie Bird, the BBC’s face of news in Scotland for the past three decades, has left Reporting Scotland.
She has been the face of the BBC Scotland programme since 1989 but fronted her last bulletin at 18:30 on Wednesday night.
She left the studio with only a few close colleagues aware that she had presented her final programme.
“I’m not leaving the BBC, I’m just vacating the news desk,” the presenter said.
Ms Bird said she had been fortunate to cover most of the major news stories in Scotland over the past three decades.
They included the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and Dunblane school shootings in 1996. The journalist was also at the forefront of coverage of the devolution referendum in 1997 and more recently the Scottish independence referendum.
She said: “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.”The popular host, who shares Reporting Scotland presenting duties with Sally Magnusson, also fronts many annual Scottish TV events such as Hogmanay, Children in Need and the World Pipe Band contest for the BBC. She said she wanted to have more time to present, write and produce projects outside of news in future.
BBC Scotland’s 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.”
BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon also paid tribute and said Ms Bird had been a trailblazer for female colleagues at a time when journalism was dominated by men.
She said: “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.”