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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor