BBC foreign correspondent and senior executive at BBC Scotland;
Born: August 18, 1918; Died: July 13, 2013.
The distinguished BBC broadcaster Douglas Stuart, who has died aged 94, was a highly respected figure in the Corporation having served as senior correspondent in Delhi, Berlin and Washington. He reported on some epic events - especially from America where he gave lucid accounts of Kennedy's election, the Cuban missile crisis and the president's assassination. He served as assistant head of programmes at BBC Scotland in Glasgow and launched Radio 4's evening news programme The World Tonight in 1970, setting a style and thoroughness which it still retains.
Douglas Willoughby Stuart was born in Calcutta where his father was an auctioneer and merchant. After attending Harrow he got an open scholarship to New College, Oxford. In 1939 he was commissioned into the 2nd Bn Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Regiment. He was wounded and captured in Italy in 1943 and spent almost two years as a prisoner in Oflag 79 in Brunswick.
On being demobbed, he joined the BBC and worked for the World Service initially until he was appointed in 1949 as the corporation's correspondent in Delhi.
Throughout his career, he reported from countries experiencing political turmoil. He spent a few years in Bonn during the Cold War before being transferred in 1956 to Cairo - arriving days before the Suez crisis erupted. In Cairo he met the spy Kim Philby - the notorious Third Man in the spy scandal which surrounded Burgess and Maclean. He and Philby became regular bridge partners and drinking companions.
In 1963, Mr Stuart gave a fascinating account of his friendship with Philby on Radio 4. In his mild, well-mannered voice, Mr Stuart spoke of how Philby was an excellent talker but spoke with a bad stutter. The treacherous Philby had an explanation for everything and felt, in his forties, that he was on the road for a knighthood. At the end of his piece, Mr Stuart, in a calm, questioning voice, asked: "Was he telling the truth?"
From 1956 to 58, Mr Stuart reported on the Middle East and after two years in Vienna spent seven momentous years in Washington. It was the Kennedy era, the time of Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy's assassination and many East/West summits. Mr Stuart was not actually in Dallas when JFK was shot but on an assignment down a mine in Pennsylvania.
He spent three years from 1967 to 1970 as assistant head of programmes at BBC Scotland in Glasgow under a future director-general, Alasdair Milne. He missed the excitement of the studio and current affairs, though, and decided that administration was not for him.
He was then chosen to front The World Tonight and he was an inspired choice. His wide experience of world affairs gave the programme a definite authority and his fine microphone manner and his calm personality also proved in valuable. "We agreed that The World Tonight should concentrate on reflecting the interviewee so I made my questions very short," he recalled on the programme's 40th anniversary in 2010. "Which is why I signed off as 'Douglas Stuart reporting'."
Over the next few years, Mr Stuart was involved in many major international events - not least Watergate, Mrs Thatcher's time as prime minister, the miners' strike and the Falklands war. Throughout, he presented reasoned and balanced programmes which were at once informative and instructive.
One of his first interviews was with Albert Speer, Hitler's minister of armament, in which he questioned Speer about his involvement with the Nazi regime and his knowledge of the concentration camps.
When the programme celebrated 40 years, many of Mr Stuart's classic interviews were repeated as a tribute. They demonstrated his total professionalism and ability to let the interviewee answer without badgering him. There were no gimmicks or wise crack interventions. Mr Stuart was in the studio to elicit real answers.
That did not mean he did not often have a broad smile on his face. In September 1970, President Nasser of Egypt died and the then Foreign Secretary, George Brown, went to the studio to be interviewed. "He had had too much to drink," Mr Stuart recalled. "My first question was answered by a gigantic sneeze and then silence."
Mr Stuart also enjoyed telling of The World Tonight's coverage of the state visit by the Romanian communist dictator Ceausescu to the UK. "It was my favourite headline," he admitted with a broad grin. "Ceausescu and his entourage stayed at Buckingham Palace, so I said: 'In tonight's programme, there are reds in the beds at Buckingham Palace'."
He made regular appearances on From Our Own Correspondent and with Richard Ingrams in The News Quiz. He suffered a heart attack in 1984 and retired from the BBC.
He married, in 1940, Margaret Holms, whom he had met at Oxford. She, their daughter and two sons survive him.
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