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October 19, 2023

Kirsty Wark to step down from Newsnight after election

Thursday marked 30 years since Wark began presenting the programme.

By Bron Maher

Kirsty Wark will step down from her role as one of Newsnight‘s lead presenters following the next election.

Thursday – the day on which the news was announced – marked 30 years since Wark first began presenting the nightly current affairs programme. She joined the BBC aged 21 in 1976.

Wark said will continue presenting programmes for the BBC after leaving Newsnight.

“Today I am celebrating 30 years presenting Newsnight,” she said. “It is an enormous privilege to be involved in such a rigorous, creative programme with a wonderful, talented, bunch of colleagues – actually many bunches over the years, led most recently by Esme Wren followed by Stewart Maclean.”

Maclean himself has reportedly just announced his departure as Newsnight editor to become BBC World News Content’s Africa bureau chief based in Nairobi, while his predecessor Wren left to lead Channel 4 News. Newsnight is reported to be gearing up for cuts.

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Wark added: “There’s not a day when I don’t look forward to coming to the office, and every day I learn something from the team about all manner of things, from aspects of American foreign policy to how to make a great mojito.”

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Wark said she informed BBC director-general Tim Davie of her intention to step down from Newsnight last year.

“When the time comes it will be a massive wrench. However, I’ll be leaving Newsnight but not the BBC. I’ll still be presenting The Reunion and Start the Week on Radio 4, TV documentaries too as well as finishing, finally, my third novel.

“There are exciting times ahead.”

Wark’s tenure at the programme has covered eight prime ministers. Among her notable journalistic moments, she conducted the last interview playwright Harold Pinter gave before his death, she was the only person to interview Lord Macpherson following the Macpherson review into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and she presented from Dunblane following the town’s 1996 school massacre.

Davie said he spoke “on behalf of the whole BBC when I thank her for the past 30 years”.

“Generations of Newsnight viewers have benefitted from Kirsty’s authority, her razor-sharp insight and her journalistic flair. She sets the standard for engaging yet authoritative presenting.”

The two remaining lead presenters for Newsnight are Victoria Derbyshire and BBC economics editor Faisal Islam.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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