BBC News Channel anchor Maxine Mawhinney has presented her final programme on the channel today as she leaves the corporation after 21 years.
Mawhinney joined the BBC in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, leaving for the commercial sector before returning in 1996 and later working for BBC World and the BBC News channel (formerly known as BBC News 24).
During her career she covered global politics as a foreign correspondent and delivered news of Princess Diana’s fatal crash to BBC News viewers in 1997.
BBC news and current affairs director James Harding said Mawhinney had been “at the heart” of the channel’s schedule “for many years”, adding: “She’s become on of our most popular presenters.”
He told staff in an email: “Maxine has decided to leave to develop her impressive portfolio in broadcasting, public speaking and training, across the media business.
“While we quite understand, she is much loved by colleagues and audiences alike and we’re very sorry to see her go.”
Mawhinney also worked as an expert trainer for the BBC Academy, helping to train new journalists.
In a farewell speech to viewers today, she said: “This has been the most incredible journey after 21 years…
“It’s been fantastic, from my first broadcasting job 40 years ago as a young journalist in Belfast during the Troubles and then living and working around the world as a foreign correspondent.
“I’ve interviewed presidents, prime ministers, pop stars, movie stars, sports stars and covered many of the major stories in the last four decades.
“I single-handedly… presented BBC News during the night of the death of Princess Diana. I have covered the Clinton presidency, the Oklahoma bomb, the trial of O.J. Simpson and the Gulf war, to name a few.
“So I’ve seen political change, social change and all the highs and lows along the way and its been an absolute privilege to bring you the news.”
Mawhinney said she was leaving to go freelance with “factual, lifestyle and social affairs programmes, documentaries, a bit of feature writing, hosting and key note speaking”.
She added: “Thank you for watching over the years and I know the BBC News Channel will only go from strength to strength, so it’s goodbye from me.”
Co-presenter Simon McCoy added: “It’s been a huge privilege to work with you and we will miss you dreadfully.”