Lynda Bryans axed by UTV
TV presenter Lynda Bryans has become the latest casualty of the UTV jobs cull, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Lynda, who is married to broadcaster-turned-politician Mike Nesbitt, was told her contract with the company was not being renewed after 14 years at Havelock House.
The decision to cancel her contract — due for renewal at the end of June — comes just four months after the high-profile presenter was dropped from news programmes in the run-up to the General Election.
Lynda was told at the time she could not present the flagship UTV Live or other news programmes as her husband was running as an Ulster Unionist candidate. She returned to work the week after the election.
It is understood Lynda was told she was not being rehired due to ongoing financial restrictions within the company.
But a UTV insider said it was widely believed that the axe had fallen because of her husband’s political commitments.
“Lynda was very disappointed when she was sent home in February and believed it to be an attack on her professional integrity,” said the source.
“But she is a total professional and has a mind of her own.
“UTV may have been concerned about the viewers’ perception of her while her husband was running for election, but what will their perception be now that they have let her go?
“The viewers aren’t stupid and will work out for themselves why UTV has come to this decision.”
Lynda, who has been on six-monthly contracts for a number of years, was a linchpin presenter within UTV and one of the big name personalities involved in the 2005 launch of radio station U105.
But in October 2008 she was let go by the station and her lunchtime slot taken over by Carolyn Stewart.
The UTV insider said: “The writing was on the wall for Lynda back then, but after she was dropped from UTV Live earlier this year I think she knew her time was up, she just didn’t think it would be this soon.”
Lynda, who began her broadcasting career as a copytaker at UTV, before switching to the BBC for several years where she branched out into broadcasting, confirmed her departure and said she was looking forward to the next phase in her career.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph she said: “It’s UTV’s decision and I have to respect that.
“In my time at Ulster Television I have enjoyed working with some fantastically experienced professionals but nobody owes me a living.
“As this door has closed I hope others will open as I will no longer be subject to the restrictions that applied during my time at Ulster Television.”
Michael Wilson, managing director UTV Television, said: “While we understand that stories about UTV attract significant interest, UTV does not comment on media speculation and respects contractual confidentiality at all times.”
Lynda joined UTV as a newsreader in the mid 1990s and regularly co-presented UTV Live with her husband Mike until he left the station in 2006.
Prior to joining UTV, she also hosted a number of BBC network shows including Animal Hospital and Here And Now.
Along with her husband, she runs a company called Take One Take Two. The couple have two sons, PJ (15) and Christopher (13).