Ex-CBBC presenter pays tribute to Mark Speight on death anniversary

Tributes poured in on the 16th anniversary of the presenter’s death

Maira Butt
Monday 08 April 2024 11:36 BST
Samaritans: Where to turn when life gets tough

Ex-CBBC presenter Kirsten O’Brien has paid tribute to her former colleague Mark Speight on the 16th anniversary of his death.

The hosts worked together on the popular children’s art programme SMart and were much loved by viewers for their on-screen friendship.

The presenter died by suicide aged 42 in April 2008, weeks after his fiancée Natasha Collins was found dead in their home. He had initially been arrested on suspicion of murder, but an inquest found that Collins had died of misadventure.

O’Brien, now 52, shared a touching post on the anniversary of his death on Sunday (7 April), saying: “16 years. What a gloriously funny man he was, and so loved.”

SMart launched in 1994, with Speight successfully auditioning to be one of its first presenters, while O’Brien joined later on. It ended in 2009, shortly after Speight’s death.

Tributes poured in from fans, with the X/Twitter post accumulating over one million views.

Many credited the pair for being a formative part of their childhood, with one fan writing: “Can’t believe it’s been 16 years. You two were part of my childhood with SMart. Mark was such a character and he was loved by us kids (now adults) that grew up watching you both.”

The pair were known for their onscreen friendship (BBC)

Others shared their memories of the beloved presenter, with one artist and engineer sharing: “They say don’t meet your heroes but I went to an event around 20 years ago as a child where he was running an art workshop and teaching us how to use perspective.

“I met him at the end and he was so kind and excited to see my drawing and signed it for me. Such a fond memory.”

Another added: “You two were my childhood. I remember meeting Mark at Butlins and I was so star struck, the pair of you fed my creative side, and I am forever grateful.”

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free
Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

Speight presented the series for 14 years and met Collins on the set of See It Saw It. He was reported missing in April 2008, before his body was discovered near Paddington Station.

Mark Speight died in 2008, aged 41 (PA)

“I absolutely loved this guy as a kid, I always tuned in to watch SMart after school. Kids today will never know how special he was, our screens have not been the same since his passing. Mark will always be a legend,” said another former viewer.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in