Colin MacKay (journalist, born 1944)

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Colin Hinshelwood MacKay (27 August 1944 – 10 November 2023) was a Scottish journalist who served as political editor of STV for nineteen years.


Early life and education

Colin Hinshelwood MacKay was born in Glasgow on 27 August 1944. [1] His mother Charlotte was a housewife and his father was Charles MacKay, [1] a doctor of midwifery and gynecology who served as group medical superintendent of Glasgow's Southern General Hospital for twenty years before his death in 1963. [2] MacKay had two brothers, Charles and Stewart, [1] and grew up within the hospital grounds. [3]

MacKay was educated at Kelvinside Academy and later published a book on the school. [1] While studying there, he became lifelong friends with Alan Rodger (later Lord Rodger of Earlsferry), the son of his father's colleague Ferguson Rodger. [4] :3

After leaving school, he studied at Jordanhill College of Education. [5] He later studied at the University of Glasgow, joining the university's Liberal Club and debating society through Glasgow University Union, [1] becoming convener of the latter group. [6] In March 1967, he and his teammate Matthew J. McQueen won the National Union of Students' competition for the Observer Mace, making them the sixth team from the university to do so. [7] Following their victory, MacKay embarked on a British Information Services-sponsored tour of Canada with a new teammate. [5] [8]

MacKay was awarded a Master of Arts degree in 1966 with honours in English, before studying for a diploma in education. [5]


In 1967, MacKay began working for Border Television as a reporter and presenter. After three years at Border, he joined Grampian Television. [1]

Following James Gordon's exit in 1973, MacKay became the second political editor of STV. [1] In the same year, he began hosting the channel's politics programme Ways and Means. [9] After he left that role in 1986, he began reporting on the British Parliament from London. [9] From 1990, he was the lead presenter on Scottish Questions. [9]

From 1988 until 1994, he sat on the board of the Scottish Arts Council. [1]

Radio career

After leaving STV in 1992, MacKay began a sixteen-year radio career, starting as the presenter of Talk-In Sunday on Radio Clyde. [9] He later joined BBC Radio Scotland where he hosted a weekly politics show called People and Power. [10] He then hosted Politics Tonight for the same radio station. [9]

In 1997, he was named BT Scottish Radio News Broadcaster of the Year. [10]

Later career

MacKay retired from front-line journalism in December 2008. [10] He continued to work freelance with the BBC, handling viewer complaints. [9]

Personal life

MacKay married Olive Brownlie in 1982 and had two sons, David and Andrew. [1]

Death and legacy

MacKay died on 10 November 2023, at the age of 79. [1]

In the aftermath of his death, many fellow journalists paid tribute, including Fiona Ross, [9] and Bernard Ponsonby. [1] Colin Mackay, STV's political editor who shared his name and former position, stated that he was "very sad" at his death and that he was a "great broadcaster, interviewer, and lovely person." [11] He was remembered by several politicians, including former first minister Alex Salmond, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Jim Sillars and former prime minister Gordon Brown. Richard Rose, a prominent political scientist in Scotland, also paid tribute. [9]

Published works

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Ponsonby, Bernard (13 November 2023). "Colin Mackay brought integrity, charm and humour to broadcasting". STV News. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  2. "Charles MacKay, M.B., Ch.B." The British Medical Journal. 2 (5369): 1413. 30 November 1963. ISSN   0007-1447. JSTOR   25396525 . Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  3. MacKay, Colin (17 June 2000). "Isobel Wares". The Herald. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  4. Burrows, Andrew; Johnston, David; Zimmermann, Reinhard (20 June 2013). Judge and Jurist: Essays in Memory of Lord Rodger of Earlsferry. Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780199677344.
  5. 1 2 3 "Two British Debaters to Visit Calgary, Banff". Calgary Herald. 23 October 1967. p. 24. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  6. "British students coming for debate". Regina Leader-Post. 6 November 1967. p. 5. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  7. "Glasgow wins 'Observer' Mace". The Observer. 19 March 1967. p. 12. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  8. Landau, Misia (2018). "Matthew McQueen". Clinical Chemistry. 64 (4): 624–627. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2017.281584 . PMID   29592904.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Ponsonby, Bernard (11 November 2023). "Colin MacKay: STV political editor whose easy charm hid probing questioning". STV News. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  10. 1 2 3 "Tributes to former BBC and STV journalist Colin MacKay". BBC News. 10 November 2023. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  11. "Tributes pour in for former BBC and STV journalist Colin MacKay". The National. 11 November 2023. Retrieved 6 January 2024.