Ivan itch for change
Veteran UTV broadcaster set to leave station after 29 years
Ivan Little — one of the best known faces on local television — is set to leave UTV after 29 years as front of camera journalist at the station. “Big Ivan”, who is among the longest serving television news reporters in the UK, is departing to devote more time to his successful acting career.
The 57-year-old confirmed last night that he is leaving under a voluntary severance scheme offered to UTV journalists.
The east Belfast man who recently published his autobiography “Little by Little” told Sunday Life: “I can’t say too much at this stage because everything hasn’t actually been signed sealed and delivered, but I do feel the time is right for a change.
“I am only a few years away from the normal retirement age in UTV and I see this a great opportunity — a door opening rather than one closing.
“I have always wanted to give more of my time to acting and I think it would be an ideal move for me now, especially as I have already got two major roles in the offing.”
Ivan will not, however, be cutting his ties with journalism.
He says: “I am planning to set up as a freelance and I will be maintaining an association with UTV. I have many happy memories of the place and I will be leaving on good terms.”
Since 1980, Little has covered all the major atrocities in Northern Ireland for UTV and for ITN including Enniskillen, Omagh, Greysteel, the Shankill and the massacre at Grahams bookmakers shop on the Ormeau Road which he was passing at the time.
In more recent years, he has also been one of the only reporters in the world to have travelled across the globe to cover the 9/11 tragedy in New York; the tsunami in Thailand and the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
As an actor, Ivan has won a raft of awards and has combined his reporting work during the day with sorties onto the stage at night, particularly in the long running comedy “The History of the Troubles (accordin’ to my Da)” by Martin Lynch and Grimes and McKee. The play has become the biggest-ever box office success in theatres here and it is to be revived for a record-breaking sixth run at Belfast’s Grand Opera House and an Ulster tour in March.
Ivan is also playing one of the leading roles in a Rawlife Theatre Company production of Patrick Marber’s West End hit play ‘Dealer’s Choice’ which is being staged in the Baby Grand at the Opera House in February.
Last year Little received rave reviews for his performance in the Prime Cut production of Owen McCafferty’s play ‘Scenes from the Big Picture’ at the Waterfront in Belfast, which was nominated for Best Production in the Irish Theatre awards.
The year before he starred in the Lyric Theatre’s extended run of the Willy Russell classic ‘Educating Rita.’ with former Eastenders actress Tara Lynne O’Neill.