Jackie Bird leaves Reporting Scotland after three decades at the helm
The broadcaster presented her final edition of the programme on Wednesday night.
Jackie Bird, one of Scotland’s best-known broadcasters, has presented her final news bulletin for the BBC.
The presenter has been the main face of the Reporting Scotland news programme for the last 30 years.
Ms Bird, also known for her coverage of annual Scottish TV events such as the Hogmanay celebrations and Children in Need, presented her final bulletin on Wednesday night.
Her shock departure was confirmed on Thursday as it emerged she left the studio with only a few close colleagues aware that she had presented her final programme.
She revealed she is not leaving the BBC and wants to have more time to present, write and produce other projects in future.
She said in a statement: “I’m not leaving the BBC, I’m just vacating the news desk.
“I’ve been fortunate to cover most of the major news stories in Scotland over the last 30 years.”
She joked: “I’ve been planning this for a while. I thought I’d give it until Brexit was sorted, but I fear I might have to stay for another 30 years.”
Ms Bird, who has been with Reporting Scotland since 1989, said she has been privileged to be involved in so many memorable news events, “from seismic political changes to reporting live from Afghanistan”.
She added: “I’ve presented the programme from Washington to Westminster, and last year anchoring from France on the centenary of the Armistice was an honour.
She was an inspiration to many female colleagues, particularly during her earlier years when newsrooms were largely dominated by men. BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon
“None of this would have been possible without some tremendous colleagues – and it’s them that I will miss most, but it’s time to move on.”
Ms Bird is said to be keen to become more involved in ad hoc current affairs specials, such as the investigation she fronted into the Glasgow bin lorry crash.
She also wants to become more involved in writing for TV and radio, while features involving in-depth interviews also form part of her plans.
Her intention to quit Reporting Scotland is understood to have taken senior colleagues by surprise.
BBC Scotland head of news Gary Smith said: “Jackie is one of the most talented and committed journalists I’ve ever worked with. Her passion and energy for the job are unsurpassed.
“As a TV news presenter, she is the ultimate professional who copes supremely well with whatever comes her way. She’s also great fun.
“For many in the newsroom – and the audience across the country – she just IS Reporting Scotland. I’ll miss her, the team in the newsroom will miss her, Scotland will miss her.”
BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon also paid tribute to the presenter, saying: “She was an inspiration to many female colleagues, particularly during her earlier years when newsrooms were largely dominated by men.
“I am certain that she will continue to inspire and influence in all she does next.”
SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Culture Committee, said: “Jackie is a respected broadcaster and a familiar face to many households in Scotland. I wish her all the best with all future BBC projects.”
Scottish Conservative culture spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton said Ms Bird’s departure is a “huge loss” for the BBC and the wider media and said the presenter will be “an extremely tough act to follow”.
Scottish Labour’s culture spokeswoman Claire Baker said of Ms Bird: “For over three decades she has reported on some of Scotland’s most tumultuous moments with impartiality and professionalism.
“I’m sure many viewers will be joining me in wishing her the best for the future and look forward to seeing her on our screens again soon.”