Carol Barnes: Authoritative television journalist who anchored 'News at Ten'

In the days when Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Selina Scott made headlines for being among the first women to present peak-time news programmes on British television, Carol Barnes quietly established herself as a reliable and authoritative newscaster at ITN and became its longest-running woman in the role.

Her plummy voice was at odds with her no-nonsense approach. She began at the ITV news provider as a reporter and quickly established a reputation for doing anything that her male counterparts would do, without fuss – even going out on a potentially dangerous job when she was seven months pregnant. "The news editor said I could say no if I wanted," recalled Barnes. "But I was the only person available and we might have missed out on the story if I hadn't gone. I don't think that any reporter – pregnant or not – thinks, 'Oh, I'm going to get killed,' when they go off to do a story.

Barnes went on to present every news programme on ITV, and she was one of the faces of the channel for its coverage of the1981 and 1986 royal weddings, and half a dozen Budgets. As a reporter, she covered the Troubles in Northern Ireland and followed Geraldine Ferraro's unsuccessful campaign as running mate to the Democratic candidate Walter Mondale in the 1984 US presidential election.

Born in Norwich in 1944, Carol Barnes was brought up in Streatham, south London, and left school at 16 to train as a fashion buyer at Harrods, earning £4 a week. However, after a year, she left to study for A levels, then gained a BA in English, French and Spanish at Sheffield University and a postgraduate teaching diploma at Birmingham University.

After a stint as a supply teacher, Barnes decided to switch to a career in the media. She worked as a public relations officer at the Royal Court Theatre, London, before joining the capital's newly launched listings magazine Time Out as production manager.

She followed that by gaining broadcasting experience as a founder reporter and newcaster on LBC (1973-74), Britain's first commercial radio station, which broadcast news and information to London.

Barnes then moved to BBC Radio 4, where she worked as a reporter on The World at One (1974-5), joining ITN in the same capacity in 1975. Four years later, she started newscasting and was later a regular on News at Ten (1986-89), The Channel Four Daily (presenting the news for the second commercial television channel's breakfast show, 1989-91) and News at 5.40 (1991-92), before switching between the ITN Lunchtime News, ITN Early Evening News and weekend programmes from 1992.

She was also a co-presenter for six years running of ITN's Budget broadcasts for ITV (1985-90) and hosted the second and third series of The Sharp End (1988-89), a Channel Four current affairs programme about people in the workplace.

The newscaster found one of her assignments unusually arduous – getting up at 3am daily to present the Channel Four breakfast news. "I've been doing four weeks on and one off," she said, after six months in the role. "It's been gruelling working those hours five days running. I know it's taken its toll. Hopefully, it hasn't shown on screen, but I constantly feel not in this world." In 1994, she was named Newscaster of the Year by the Television & Radio Industries Club.

In 1999, a year after leaving ITN, Barnes started hosting the weekly regional political magazine 7 Days for Meridian, the ITV company broacasting to the south and south-east of England. Just a year later, she returned to national television to join the team of presenters on the round-the-clock ITN News Channel (later renamed the ITV News Channel). She left in 2004 following the death of her 24-year-old daughter Clare – from her six-year relationship with the trade unionist-turned-Labour MP Denis MacShane – in a sky-diving accident in Australia. Shortly afterwards, Barnes was banned from driving and dismissed as a magistrate after being convicted of drink driving.

She also had a son, James, from her marriage to Nigel Thomson, an award-winning ITN cameraman notable for his work from the frontline, which ended in separation in 1998.

Two months ago, Barnes returned to television screens to present Saving Ed Mitchell, a Tonight current affairs programme about the descent into alcoholism and homelessness of her former ITN colleague Ed Mitchell, who had taken to sleeping on a seafront bench in Brighton. In 2004 she appeared as herself, presenting a fictional news programme about a zombie invasion, in the film comedy Shaun of the Dead. She also wrote columns for the magazines Absolute London and Absolute Brighton, and helped to launch a media training company, Greenwich Village PR.

Anthony Hayward



Carol Lesley Barnes, television journalist: born Norwich 13 September 1944; married 1981 Nigel Thomson (one son) (one daughter deceased with Denis MacShane); died Brighton, East Sussex 8 March 2008.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Consultant – Building Management

up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal