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Kirsty Wark
Born Kirsteen Anne Wark
3 February 1955 (1955-02-03) (age 54)
Dumfries, Scotland
Education Grange Academy
Occupation Television journalist
Spouse(s) Alan Clements
Notable credit(s) Newsnight

Kirsteen Anne Wark (born 3 February 1955) is a Scottish journalist and television presenter best known for fronting the BBC Two's news and current affairs programme Newsnight since 1993, and its weekly arts annexe Newsnight Review.

Contents

Biography

Wark was born in Dumfries to Jimmy Wark, a solicitor, and Roberta Wark, a schoolteacher. Kirsty Wark was educated at Kilmarnock Grammar Primary and subsequently Ayr's independent Wellington School. After studying history at the University of Edinburgh, Wark joined the BBC in 1976 as a researcher for BBC Radio Scotland and, in 1982, moved to television. She produced BBC Scotland's lunchtime political programme Agenda (BBC Scotland programme) and eventually became a BBC television presenter, including a presenter of Breakfast Time. In 1988 she was one of the first reporters to cover the Lockerbie disaster. In 1990, Wark demonstrated her distinctive line of questioning in an interview with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Wark was a presenter on BBC2 arts programme The Late Show (from 1990-3) and the heritage programme One Foot in the Past.

She has presented Newsnight since 1993. She married the television producer Alan Clements (born c. 1961) in September 1989 after meeting on the BBC Scotland programme Left, Right, and Centre, and they have a son (born 1992) and daughter (born 1990). They founded independent TV production company Wark-Clements in 1990, which in May 2004 was merged with fellow Scots broadcaster Muriel Gray's Ideal World to form IWC Media. In December 2005, Wark and Gray severed their connections with IWC Media after RDF Media bought the company.

Wark hosted the 10th annual Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards on Friday November 30, 2007 for STV.

She replaced David Baddiel as host of the BBC Four programme The Book Quiz in 2008 and hosts a BBC Two quiz show, A Question of Genius, which started in March 2009.

She appeared as a cameo in the TV series of Doctor Who in the Poison Sky 2008.

Interview style

In June 2006 she interviewed Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter.[1]

In June 2007, Wark clashed with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in an interview over his response to a memorandum of understanding between the UK Government and Libya regarding prisoner exchanges. Salmond feared that this could include Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted by a Scottish court for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.[2] Ironically in August 2009 Salmond's Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill released Megrahi on compasionate grounds following a prognosis of terminal cancer.

According to Newsnight editor Peter Barron, some viewers questioned the premise of the interview; that the new SNP government appeared to be picking a fight with London. Other viewers thought that Wark's line of questioning was too aggressive and therefore discourteous.[3] The biggest controversy, however, regarded how the interview ended. According to Barron, time constraints forced Wark to end the questioning abruptly, leading him to perceive her behavior as "rude and dismissive."[3]

Television critic A. A. Gill has criticised her hosting of the "embarrassingly rubbish" Newsnight Review, describing her as a "taut and trite Edinburgh cultural stamp collector".[4]

Public controversies

Donald Dewar, former First Minister of Scotland, a close friend, appointed her to the Scottish Parliament Building Design Selection Panel, which chose Enric Miralles' design for the new parliament. Questioned by the Fraser Inquiry, set up to investigate the building's cost overruns, she said: "There was no way that we were making a decision on economically the most advantageous tender; you would have ended up with a shed . . . it was [about] getting a building which was the most exciting, innovative building . . ."[5] In 2003, Wark-Clements produced a film on the building, with critics accusing Wark of a conflict of interest.[6]

In January 2005, she became involved in a controversy after she invited Labour MSP Jack McConnell, then Scotland's First Minister, and his family to stay at her Majorcan holiday home over the New Year period. McConnell, a long-time friend of Wark and husband Clements before holding office, was cleared of any improprieties when the Scottish Parliament's Standards Committee deemed he received no financial benefits from the holidays. Wark's editor on Newsnight offered his support, stating, "Many people in the media have friends who have gone on to hold office. The important issue is your ability to ask tough questions and that is not a problem with Kirsty Wark or anybody else on the programme." However such controversies have led to questions about her ability to behave impartially.[7] Wark and Clements have recently been the subject of much coverage in the Guardian, Independent, Mail, Times and Telegraph regarding his use of Wark's former PA to covertly monitor emails at RDF Media after he left following an acrimonious dispute about a non-compete deal.[1]

External links

References

Further reading

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