It’s been more than two years since Jackie Bird delivered her final news bulletin to the nation.
And the veteran BBC newsreader, one of telly’s most famous faces for three decades, is missing her audience.
While she won’t be reading the news again, Jackie has other plans to get back on the box – and they are not quite what you’d expect.
After being a serious newsreader, she has her sights set on comedy.
She said: “I am a massive fan of Scot Squad and am more than a little bit in love with Chief Miekelson. Landing a role as his love interest or his stalker would be a dream come true.
“I’m even willing to be his long-suffering secretary Jean’s holiday replacement if it means I get to spend time with the chief.
“I know the show’s make-up artist, who has promised me she would have a word with the writers. That was at the end of last year so maybe they are writing me in as we speak.
“I’m also desperate to play a panto villain. Elaine C Smith is an absolute star and, if I ever got the call from her saying she needed a wicked witch, then I am there. It would be great to be a baddie for a change.”
The 59-year-old is hopeful she will get back on screen to do a Hogmanay show and is looking forward to hosting our Scotland Champion’s Awards, which we launch today.
Jackie said: “I don’t miss reading the news at all, not one iota. It was exactly the right decision and the right time to go. I wouldn’t have gone if I was going to miss it – 30 years is a long time and I needed a change.
“I don’t know how I would have handled the Covid news for a year. I look at my colleagues and it has been very stressful for them trying to report while social distancing. I certainly would not have enjoyed it.
“I still tune in to Reporting Scotland every now and again but, after spending three decades keeping on top of every news story, I’ve enjoyed being able to dip in and out.
“That being said, I do miss doing the Hogmanay coverage. That was a special one. It was a privilege to be on air at midnight and ring in the New Year with the nation for 20 years and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
“I was due to do an alternative Hogmanay show last year online but it got cancelled due to the pandemic, but hopefully next year I will be broadcasting from somewhere in some guise.”
But it’s not just Jackie who is eager to be back on the telly – her fans are just as keen and have been stopping her in the street during lockdown to tell her it’s time she was back.
The journalist, who lives in the south side of Glasgow with second husband Robin Weir, 53, said: “I still get folk coming up to me in shops telling me they miss me.
“I thought masks would stop folk recognising me but no. I’ve been walking about like I’ve been dug up with no make-up on and unwashed hair and still they want me back on the TV.
“Last year, Scot Squad star and wrestler Grado recorded a song, Let’s Get Jackie Bird Back This Hogmanay, which he played on his radio show. In the music video, he goes round Glasgow with ‘Missing’ posters with my face on it saying Covid and the 2020 blues will disappear if they bring me back at New Year. What bigger compliment can you get?”
The broadcaster, who announced she was standing down as BBC Reporting Scotland anchor in April 2019, is looking forward to putting on her gladrags and taking the helm of our People’s Oscars alongside radio host Des Clarke.
In 2019, the Daily Record and Sunday Mail combined their prestigious Our Heroes and Great Scot Awards into one big glittering event – Scotland’s Champions.
The awards, which didn’t take place last year due to the pandemic, celebrate ordinary folk who selflessly go above and beyond to help friends, families and communities. The gongs will be handed out – Covid restrictions permitting – on September 18 at a party in the DoubleTree by Hilton, Glasgow Central, attended by celebrities, sports stars, politicians and all the nominees.
Jackie, who was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, said: “This will be the first live event I have been at since Covid knocked the whole world on its head. My diary is full of scored-out ceremonies and awards so I’m keeping everything crossed come September we can party together.
“Scotland’s Champions is all about celebrating people who go above and beyond and, in 2021, showing appreciation is more important than ever.
“That’s why it is so important for readers to nominate the unsung heroes who have touched their lives through acts of kindness, be they big or small.”
She added: “It’s been ages since I hosted an event and I’m going to have to practise walking in heels as I’ve been in flats or trainers for more than a year. I can’t wait to get my gladrags on.”
Jem Maidment, chief marketing officer of our title sponsors Utilita, said: “It’s an honour and privilege to again be part of Scotland’s Champions.
“We look forward to hearing – and celebrating – the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people from across the country during what has been a challenging period. At Utilita, it’s always been our goal to make a difference in local communities and beyond.
“Scotland’s Champions gives the opportunity to recognise the people who do the same.”
David Dick, editor-in-chief of Reach (Scotland), said: “Champions come in every shape and size. They rarely seek attention, yet what they do changes and transforms the lives of others – whether that’s in one simple act or in a lifetime’s work.
“Scotland’s Champions is a celebration of all their achievements.”