Hot news: Kirsty's in Vogue

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The Independent Online
It's not quite a full year since Channel 5 came on air, but already its chief news anchorwoman Kirsty Young has established herself as one of the hottest new properties on UK TV. Never content to sit still and simply read an autocue, she will have her own half-hour chat show from next month.

Her meteoric rise to nationwide celebrity status has also been confirmed in the last week by two other developments. First, she has just been voted the "Outstanding New Talent of 1997" in the Variety Club's annual showbiz awards. Second, she was recently invited to do a major shoot for Vogue, as featured in the latest issue of that glossy fashion bible.

Chris Shaw, editor of 5 News, is naturally delighted to see the peripatetic presenter of his fast-paced programme generating so much favourable publicity. "Kirsty has pioneered a new kind of newscasting on a new kind of news programme, and this award is a great tribute to her skills," he enthuses, although he must be nervous about her being poached by rival news programmes with bigger audiences.

In public at least, Young is remaining loyal to the programme that gave her her big break in network broadcasting (previous stints as an on-screen reporter on Film 96 and the Holiday programme didn't make her a household name).

"The past 12 months have been an extraordinary 12 months for news and an extraordinary 12 months for me," she says. "The whole team at 5 News has done a great job, and I'm proud to be part of it."

So what is the secret of this 29-year-old Scotswoman's success? Richard Tait, editor-in-chief of ITN, believes it is "a sharp journalistic brain allied to a flair for live television".

Louise Chunn, who interviewed Kirsty and several other female anchors for Vogue, believes it's down to this: "She is pretty and blonde and bushy- tailed ... She's also clued-up, warm and direct, and has one of those low- pitched, delightfully calming Scottish accents that, if you had to, you would choose to break the most earth-shattering news."

That Kirsty Young's appeal isn't solely visual is proven by the fact that she was also recently hired by London-based Talk Radio to host its morning programme. That deal sparked tabloid speculation about her salary. The tabloids estimate it at around pounds 750,000 a year.

Whatever, she's obviously pulling in a lot more than she was making a year ago in her native Scotland, where she was a household name only in those parts served by Scottish Television.

But her lack of profile in Grampian and Border regions didn't stop the Scottish tabloids from intruding into her private life. She had a long relationship with Ian Pattison, the creator of Rab C Nesbitt, and then broke off her volatile engagement to a Glasgow restaurateur.

Her latest flame, the Scotland rugby international Kenny Logan, followed her down to London, but they still live at separate addresses. She has a flat in ever-fashionable Chelsea, and arrived for her Vogue shoot in a black leather coat, killer heels and her trademark Gucci jacket.

"Going without a jacket looks frivolous; you can't be taken seriously," she explained. "You go to Smith Square to try to get John Major on the night before he lost the election and you're wearing a cashmere twinset, no matter how exquisite - you won't get the interview. It doesn't necessarily make sense that people only trust you in a jacket, but it's true."

In the run-up to the launch of 5 News, Young put a lot of thought into her on-air attire. "I decided not to try to be swanky, but to follow certain rules: well-cut trousersuits, no patterns, dark colours - chocolate, dark blues - from places like Gucci and Joseph, so I don't clash with the primary colours of the newsroom. I'm not against skirts, but I don't want to be having to bother about skirt lengths - particularly any public discussion about them."

She doesn't want TV viewers - or reviewers - to think about what she's wearing. "If you do, then my clothes are distracting, and that's a big mistake. The key is to be credible without being staid. News can be entertaining. It can make you smile now and again, but, ultimately, you have to feel that you're getting the truth. You have to trust in that person."

Rob Brown, Media Editor