Alastair was a broadcaster whose career spanned four decades. He was born and brought up in Burton-upon-Trent. He founded/owned Al Kay Promotions, an entertainment company which managed clubs and pop groups (1967 – 1973). Alastair moved into broadcasting in 1973 as presenter/producer at BBC Radio Derby, where he spent two years. Other broadcasting jobs included: host of the daily morning show at BBC Radio Leicester (1976 – 1977); newsreader on regional news programme Midlands Today; newsreader on BBC Radio 4; current affairs host on BBC Radio Birmingham (1978 – 1980); presenter/reporter, Grampian TV (1980 – 1985); presenter/reporter, Anglia TV (1985 – 1988). Alastair had the distinction of being the first male anchor on Sky News when the channel launched in 1989. He co-hosted the breakfast programme there until 1991.
Alastair returned to the BBC as an anchor on BBC World News (1992 – 2011). He was a founder presenter on BBC News 24 (later the BBC News Channel, 1997 – 2011). There was a break in his BBC career, where he was host/anchor of English language news programme on Deutsche Welle TV News (1998 – 2001). Since retiring, Alastair had taken up the lead role as lead and chair of ADHA Richmond – a parent/carer support group for this neurodevelopmental condition. His distinctive, rich, deep voice was once again heard across the airwaves when he presented the news on Classic FM/Smooth Radio for a period during 2013.
Paul R. Jackson corresponded with Alastair in March 2018 about his career: “For a time during the 1970s, Radio 4 carried regional news bulletins Monday to Saturday. These were broadcast twice at breakfast, at lunchtime and an evening bulletin was aired at 5.55pm. All regional news bulletins broadcast from BBC regional news bases around England ended in August 1980. My colleagues included David Stevens and Guy Thomas. I only presented the news within Midlands Today where I worked with Tom Coyne; I also fronted a pilot inventions programme called Eureka.
“I moved to TV at Pebble Mill from Radio Derby after being interviewed for the post. When the axe fell on regional presentation in 1980, I joined Grampian TV in Aberdeen to host the evening news magazine with Selina Scott. As well as reporting, I presented About Anglia in Norwich. In February 1989, I was the first male presenter on air at the launch of Sky News; Penny Smith was my co-presenter. BBC World Service Television was expanding its output in 1991 and invited me to join them. The channel became BBC World in 1995 and I remained as a founder anchor. Then in 1997 the BBC decided to rival Sky News with its own version of 24-hour news called News 24 and I was one of the launch presenters.
“In 1998, I had an offer from Deutsche Welle TV (Germany’s World Service) to go to Berlin to help in their expansion. I rejoined the BBC in 2001 where I remained until my retirement in 2011. However, I was tempted to make a brief return to the airwaves in 2013 to present the news for Classic FM and Smooth Radio. I am now happily retired from broadcasting but am giving back my journalistic experience in a charitable way by being chair of ADHD Richmond.”
On 27th July 2018, news outlets announced Alastair’s sudden death, due to a heart attack.
Various former colleagues paid tribute to Alastair. Peter Dobbie, who worked with Alastair at the BBC, posted this tweet:
Another former colleague, Simon McCoy, reported the sad news about Alastair at the end of the 4pm news programme on 27th July 2018:
Former BBC News presenter Alastair Yates has died at the age of 66. He was a presenter for over 20 years here at the BBC. He was also one of the first presenters on Sky News, in 1989. Those of us who worked with him will miss him.Simon McCoy, BBC News presenter
Following his retirement from broadcasting, Alastair volunteered his services to the ADHD Foundation in Richmond. That organisation paid this tribute to him:
Our condolences to family, friends & all at ADHD Richmond on the sad news about Alastair Yates – Chair of ADHD Richmond & former news broadcaster.ADHD Twitter Feed
Thank you for your support for ADHD. You were a true gentleman; a kind man, a good friend. We will all miss you so much.
Alastair’s daughter Elspeth later posted this tweet:
Video Clips on the Internet
Here we present a selection of video clips featuring Alastair which we found on social media sites or have made available from our own archive. The clips are presented here for additional reference. Inclusion of a video does not constitute an endorsement of the hosting site/channel/user. If you find any broken links below or are aware of an additional clip(s) which you believe may be a useful addition to this profile, please get in touch with us via our Contact page.
Alastair Yates on continuity duty for one of the last regional closedowns in the BBC English regions.
Alastair Yates practicing reading the news c. 1978.
PICTURED: Alastair Yates (Classic FM, 2012). SUPPLIED BY: Alastair Yates. COPYRIGHT: Alastair Yates.