Fiona Elizabeth Bruce (born 25 April 1964) is a British journalist, newsreader and television presenter. Since joining the BBC in 1989, she has gone on to present many flagship programmes for the corporation including the BBC News at Six, BBC News at Ten, Crimewatch, Call My Bluff and, most recently, Antiques Roadshow. From 2003 to 2007, she also anchored her own documentary series, Real Story.
Early life and educationEdit
Bruce was born in Singapore, the daughter of an Englishwoman and a Scotsman who worked his way up from post boy to become managing director of a division of Unilever. Her mother Rosemary was adopted. She was educated at Gayton Primary School in Heswall, Wirral, The International School of Milan, and then the sixth form of Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College in New Cross, London. It was during this later period that she modelled for the stories in the teenage girls' magazine Jackie.
Bruce studied French and Italian at Hertford College, Oxford, during which period she was a punk, and for one week had blue hair. In a programme she presented for the BBC on Leonardo Da Vinci on 30 October 2011 she demonstrated that she was comfortable interviewing both French and Italian art experts in their own languages.
After leaving university, Bruce joined a management consultant firm for a year, but found the experience depressingly dull:
|“||I dreaded the meetings, the tedium, the fact that I was in the wrong job. I was so unhappy. I used to cry in the loos at lunchtime.||”|
After this, she worked at the advertising agency Boase Massimi Pollitt (BMP) for a couple of years (where she met her future husband, a company director). She then went on to meet Tim Gardam - at that time the editor of Panorama- at a wedding and pestered him until he gave her a job as a researcher at the BBC on the programme in 1989.
After becoming assistant producer on Panorama, she made the change to presenting in 1992 as a reporter for Breakfast News. She then moved to BBC South East, appearing as an occasional presenter and reporter on Newsroom South East. During this time she also appeared on some weekend main BBC News bulletins and reported for Newsnight. From 1994-95 she was a reporter on the BBC2 current affairs programme Public Eye.
In 1999, as part of a major relaunch of the BBC's news output, Bruce was named secondary presenter of the Six O'Clock News bulletin. She presented the programme as cover for main presenter Huw Edwards as well as regularly on Fridays until a presenter reshuffle in January 2003 to coincide with the retirement of Michael Buerk and the move of Peter Sissons to the BBC News channel.
Both Edwards and Bruce moved to presenting the BBC News at Ten and have presented the programme on their respective days since. By becoming presenter, she became the first woman to present the bulletin from launch in 2000. More recently, Bruce has once again taken up the role of Friday presenter and main relief presenter on the BBC's Six O'Clock News.
In 2006 in light of a court case whereby British Airways requested that a Christian employee conceal her cross because it infringed the airline's dress code, the BBC disclosed it had some concerns over the fact that Fiona Bruce often wore a cross necklace although she was not banned from doing so.
In September 1998, she became the presenter for BBC2's The Antiques Show, which was in its fourth series. She presented it for a further two series, showing her interest in presenting antiques programes nearly a decade before presenting the Antiques Roadshow.
On 22 June 2007 it was announced that Bruce was to replace the retiring Michael Aspel as presenter of the Antiques Roadshow in Spring 2008. She appeared in a tongue-in-cheek BBC HD advert in 2008, featuring the show (which is one of the BBC's main programs on its HD service), where she drove a car through a wall, before running towards a falling vase; the car explodes as she jumps to save the vase from crashing.
Bruce also occasionally presents special editions of The Money Programme. In one, she profiled the entrepreneur, Sir Alan Sugar. She said of the experience: "It was a bit like being in front of a hair dryer at very close quarters. He's not backwards in coming forward in his opinions." During the documentary, Bruce – who has always publicly identified herself as a feminist – challenged Sugar's view that women should openly disclose their childcare commitments to a potential employer. Her belief was that if men were not required to declare their ability to meet the demands of their job, it wasn't right that women should do so.
Bruce was featured in an episode of Top Gear (series 10, episode 3), which saw her sharing a lift with presenter of the show, Jeremy Clarkson and then having to push him out (as he was stuck in a Peel P50, which has no reverse gear). As she walked away, Clarkson commented, without her knowledge until the programme was aired, "She does have quite a nice bottom... I said that out loud, didn't I?" Bruce returned to Top Gear in the next series (series 11, episode 4), alongside fellow newsreader Kate Silverton, for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car feature. As a riposte for the "nice bottom" comment, she slapped Jeremy's and declared that it "needs a bit of work". Since then, she has also occasionally stood in for a holidaying Clarkson in his Sunday Times car review column, which she referred to as the ultimate revenge; "perching my bottom – nice or otherwise – on his patch."
A less serious side of Bruce is also displayed each year on the BBC's Children in Need telethon, in the regular section where newsreaders break out from behind their desks to take part in a song and dance number. Blessed with a better singing voice than most of her colleagues, her turn in the 2007 performance, as Velma Kelly – with a rendition of "All That Jazz" – so impressed the makers of the revival production of Chicago that they invited her to the London performance of the 10th anniversary gala, where she appeared on stage in a parade of Velmas.
In 2010 Victoria: A Royal Love Story is BBC documentary written and presented by Fiona Bruce charting the story of one of history's great royal love affairs between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and in the twenty years they spent together they gave each other a dazzling collection of paintings, sculptures, and jewellery that shows a new and passionate side of the royal couple.
In 2011, she co-hosted with Philip Mould the series Fake or Fortune?, looking at the process of using modern techniques to establish the authenticity of works of art which have divided opinion amongst art experts.
In 2011 The Queen's Palaces is a BBC documentary in three parts written and presented by Fiona Bruce that tells the story of the Queen's three official residences, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse which are amongst the few working royal palaces in the world today.