Fiona Elizabeth Bruce (born 25 April 1964) is a British television journalist, newsreader and television producer and presenter. Since joining the BBC as a researcher on Panorama 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, Antiques Roadshow and, most recently, Fake or Fortune.
From 2003 until 2007, she also anchored her own current affairs series, Real Story.
Early life and education
Fiona Bruce was born in Singapore, to an English mother and a Scottish father, who had worked his way up from a postboy to become managing director of Unilever. Her mother Rosemary was adopted. Fiona has two elder brothers. She was educated at Gayton Primary School in Heswall on the 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 read French and Italian at Hertford College, Oxford, during which period she was briefly a punk, and for one week had blue hair.
After leaving university, Bruce joined a management consulting 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 a number of advertising agencies including Boase Massimi Pollitt (where she met her future husband, a company director). She then went on to meet Tim Gardam – at that time the editor of the BBC's Panorama – at a wedding and pestered him until, in 1989, he gave her a job as a researcher on the programme.
News and current affairs
After becoming assistant producer on Panorama, she made the change to reporting in 1992 on Breakfast News. She then moved to BBC South East, appearing as an occasional presenter and reporter on Newsroom South East and a weekly current affairs programme, First Sight. From 1994 to 1995, she was a reporter on the BBC2 current affairs programme Public Eye. She then reported for Panorama and Newsnight.
In 1999, as part of a major relaunch of the BBC's news output, Bruce was named secondary presenter of the BBC Six O'Clock News. 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 the BBC Ten O'Clock News and continue to present the programme. Bruce was the first female presenter of the bulletin. More recently, Bruce has returned to relief presenting the BBC News at Six.
After 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. In 2001, Bruce became the first female presenter to be part of the BBC general election results programme.
In 2006, following 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, Bruce became the presenter for BBC Two's Antiques Show, which was in its fourth series. She presented it for a further two series, showing her interest in presenting antiques programmes 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 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 presented special editions of The Money Programme. In one, she profiled the entrepreneur, Lord 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), sharing a lift with one of its presenters, 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 has got 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 has been shown in the BBC's Children in Need telethon for several years, in the regular section where newsreaders break out from behind their desks to take part in a song and dance number. Having 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.
Victoria: A Royal Love Story (2010) is a BBC documentary, written and presented by Bruce, charting the story of the love affair between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and documenting the collection of paintings, sculptures, and jewellery they gave each other.
Since 2011, she has co-hosted the BBC television series Fake or Fortune? alongside Philip Mould. The show looks at the process of using modern techniques to establish the authenticity of works of art which have divided opinion amongst art experts.
In 2011, Bruce wrote and presented The Queen's Palaces, a three-part BBC documentary telling the story of the Queen's three official residences, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Holyrood Palace. In 2012, Bruce wrote and presented a BBC documentary about Leonardo da Vinci.
In 2017, it was reported that Bruce earns £350,000 - £399,999 as a BBC presenter.
In the TV version of the satirical impressions show Dead Ringers, Bruce is parodied by Jan Ravens, ruthlessly exaggerating her idiosyncratic feline mannerisms through overt sexual innuendo. For example, "Hello, my name is Fiona Bruce sitting on the luckiest chair in Britain", and "Hello, I'm Fiona Bruce; don't touch what you can't afford."
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.
Referring to Jeremy Clarkson's adoration of her – he once described her as "agonisingly gorgeous" – 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."
Bruce has often been outspoken regarding her commitment to feminism, expressing concern at a 2006 poll that suggested almost three-quarters of women no longer saw feminism as necessary; "The contradictions are still there [in society] which is why I think feminism is still very relevant for me and it's just such a shame that it's become a byword for mustachioed, man-hating women from Lebanon." Despite her firm views on the subject – including a "disappointment" in women who don't like working with other women – she claims to have softened her feminist views from her university days, where she once ran an anti-pornography campaign.
Fathers 4 Justice controversy
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 CAFCASS 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 found that "the programme had provided appropriate and balanced information around the allegation that violent men had infiltrated F4J".
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. Later that year she was one of nine prominent women to take part in the What's it going to take? campaign for the feminist charity Women's Aid.
In 2009, the NSPCC inducted her into its Hall of Fame in honour of her continued work on their behalf. In accepting the honour, she said, "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."
Bruce has been admitted as a Freeman of the City of London.
Bruce met Nigel Sharrocks when he was director of the advertising agency where she worked. He is non-executive chairman of Digital Cinema Media. 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 Belsize Park in London and Sydenham, Oxfordshire. Bruce encountered much adverse publicity for her decision to return to work with Crimewatch 16 days after the birth of baby Mia. In 2014, Bruce stated that she does not use social media due to the misogynistic abuse directed towards female celebrities.