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Fiona Elizabeth Bruce (born 25 April 1964 in Singapore Citymarker, Singaporemarker) 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.

Biography

Bruce was born in Singaporemarker, the daughter of a self-made 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 Heswallmarker, Merseyside, St. George's British International School in Rome, and then the sixth form of Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham Collegemarker in New Crossmarker, 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, Oxfordmarker, during which period she was a self-confessed punk, and for one week had blue hair.

Career

After leaving university, Bruce joined a management consultant firm for a year, but found the experience depressingly dull:

After this, she worked in an advertising agency for a couple of years, before she met the then editor of Panorama Tim Gardam 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 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.

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 ever 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.

Following the murder of Jill Dando, Bruce took over the position of co-presenter on Crimewatch alongside Nick Ross, until both were replaced by Kirsty Young towards the end of 2007.

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 has also been featured in an episode of Top Gear, which sees her sharing a lift with presenter of the show, Jeremy Clarkson and then having to push him out (as he was stuck in his Peel P50, which had no reverse gear). As she walks away, Clarkson goes on to comment "She does have quite a nice bottom... I said that out loud, didn't I?" Bruce returned to Top Gear in the next series, 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".

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.

Charity work

Bruce is an Honorary Vice President of optical charity Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) alongside fellow newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald. In February 2005 Bruce did the voice over for VAO's Lifeline Appeal. In 2007 Bruce launched VAO's Annual Review.

In 2009, the NSPCC inducted her into its Hall of Fame in honour of her continued work on their behalf. She accepted the honour with a degree of modesty, "The work of the NSPCC and ChildLine is desperately important and I do little compared to what needs to be done. But I'm very honoured to be included in the Hall of Fame."

Parody

In the TV version of the satirical impressions show Dead Ringers Bruce was parodied by Jan Ravens, ruthlessly exaggerating her idiosyncratic feline mannerisms through overt sexual innuendo. For example, "I'm Fiona Bruce. There's never a hosepipe ban when I'm in the room" and "I'm Fiona Bruce and I'm sitting on the luckiest chair in Britain".

Bruce claims that she does not recognise Ravens' portrayal of her as a genuine part of her character, but says she is flattered by the attention it provokes. "People don't start salivating when I go into the newsroom. I can’t think of anything further from the truth. But if Jan Ravens chose to see me like that, well then: result.” Referring also to Clarkson's adoration of her she remarked, “In my 20s, I was virulently opposed to anyone commenting on my appearance. But it’s not an issue for me now. If he pays me a compliment, then fine, how nice. Thanks Jeremy.”

Criticisms

Bruce was criticised for showing "blatant bias" when interviewing Matt O'Connor, founder of Fathers 4 Justice, for a BBC programme in 2004. Bruce, who had featured in advertising campaigns for the feminist charity Women's Aid, was accused of having an axe to grind on the issue of domestic violence. Many, including O'Connor, felt she let her own personal view on domestic violence as an issue of gender take over the programme. There were also concerns that O'Connor had originally been invited to speak about CAFCA and the Family Courts, yet the programme was changed to focus on domestic violence. Later, a BBC Committee, investigating on behalf of the BBC Governors, concluded that there were "some weaknesses" in the programme when considered against the BBC's journalistic values of "Truth and Accuracy, Serving the Public Interest, Impartiality and Diversity of Opinion, Independence and Accountability" but that the programme "still made a valuable contribution to the debate on parental rights". Overall, the Committee "did not think that these matters were sufficient to constitute a serious breach of editorial standards" and judged that "the programme had provided appropriate and balanced information around the allegation that violent men had infiltrated F4J".

Personal life

Bruce met her husband Nigel Sharrocks when he was director of the advertising agency where she worked. He is currently Managing Director of Aegis Group. They married in July 1994 in Islington. The couple have two children, son Sam (born January 1998) and daughter Mia (born November 2001), and live in North Londonmarker.

References

  1. Fiona Bruce was intensely ambitious to be a News Reader from an early age, and focused her immense charm on people who would be of use to her in this quest.
  2. "Bruce hosts Sir Alan Sugar documentary" at Digital Spy
  3. http://london.broadway.com/story/id/3009234
  4. http://www.nspcc.org.uk/whatwedo/mediacentre/pressreleases/2009_11_june_stars_honoured_at_NSPCC_hall_of_fame_ceremony_wdn66068.html
  5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/4402668/Interview-Fiona-Bruce.html
  6. BBC's Fiona Bruce
  7. Angry fathers attack 'biased' Bruce | Society | The Observer


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