Kate Adie

Kathryn Adie, CBE, DL (/ˈdi/; born 19 September 1945) is an English journalist. She was chief news correspondent for BBC News between 1989 and 2003, during which time she reported from war zones around the world.

Kate Adie

Adie at the Gibraltar International Literary Festival in 2017
Born (1945-09-19) 19 September 1945
Alma materUniversity of Newcastle upon Tyne
Notable credit(s)
Chief News Correspondent for BBC News
AwardsRichard Dimbleby Award (1990) Fellowship Award (2018)

She retired from the BBC as Chief News Correspondent (a role she had assumed in 1989) in early 2003 and now works as a freelance presenter with From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4.


Adie was born in Whitley Bay, Northumberland.[2] She was adopted as a baby by a Sunderland pharmacist and his wife, John and Maud Adie,[3] and grew up there.

She had an independent school education at Sunderland Church High School, and then studied at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where she obtained a degree in Scandinavian Studies and starred in several Gilbert and Sullivan productions. During her third year at Newcastle, she also taught English in sub-arctic northern Sweden.[4]

Adie is a fan of Sunderland AFC.[5] In 2011, she took part in the Sunderland A.F.C. charity Foundation of Light event[6].

In 1993, she was able to find her birth family, an event covered by tabloid newspapers.[3]

A June 2018 news report stated that she was living in Dorset and was still working as a freelance journalist, public speaker and presenter of From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4.[7] In that same year, after receiving her CBE, Adie warned the public that journalism was under attack:[8]

We seem to be living through a time where there are threats to journalists everywhere, whether it’s repression or censorship, and it’s hugely important to recognise that the intention of journalism is to tell it as it is and we need to do that more than ever now.

In January 2019, at Bournemouth University, she warned postgraduate journalism students that confirming information and verifying news sources were critical in this climate of fake news. She stressed the importance of personally verifying news sources. "Getting your person there is an absolutely standard lesson ... news is not news without verification. ...If you only have the station cat to send, send them!"[9]


Her career with the BBC began as a station assistant at BBC Radio Durham, after graduating in Scandinavian Studies. In 1976, she was a regional TV news reporter in Plymouth and Southampton,[10] and moved to BBC national (television) news in 1979. She was the duty reporter one evening in May 1980 and first on the scene when the Special Air Service (SAS) went in to break up the Iranian Embassy siege. As smoke bombs exploded in the background and SAS soldiers abseiled in to rescue the hostages, Adie reported live and unscripted to one of the largest news audiences ever while crouched behind a car door.[11] This proved to be her big break.[12]

Adie was thereafter regularly dispatched to report on disasters and conflicts throughout the 1980s, including the "troubles" in Northern Ireland,[13] the American bombing of Tripoli in 1986 (her reporting of this was criticised by the Conservative Party Chairman Norman Tebbit), and the Lockerbie bombing of 1988. She was promoted to Chief News Correspondent in 1989 and held the role for fourteen years.

One of her most significant assignments was to report the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Adie's BBC crew were the only journalists in the square and were able to document much of the atrocity, which was not acknowledged by the government. She later recalled: "... at least we were there and we have the evidence of what they did. They would love to erase it from history."[14]

Major assignments followed in the Gulf War, the war in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and the war in Sierra Leone in 2000.

In Libya she met leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. She was also shot by a drunk and irate Libyan army commander after refusing, as a journalist, to act as an intermediary between the British and Libyan governments; the bullet, fired at point-blank range, nicked her collar bone but she did not suffer permanent harm.[15]

While she was in Yugoslavia, her leg was injured in Bosnia and she met Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić.[16]

A newspaper cartoon features two soldiers, one with a tattered flag "To Iraq" on the barrel of his machine gun, and the caption "We can't start yet... Kate Adie isn't here."[17] Her insistence upon being on the spot elicited the wry adage that "a good decision is getting on a plane at an airport where Kate Adie is getting off".

In 2003 Adie retired from the BBC, where she had been Chief News Correspondent[18] and began work as a freelance journalist (among other work she gives regular reports on Radio New Zealand) and also as a public speaker, and presents From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4. She hosted two five-part series of Found, a Leopard Films production for BBC One, in 2005 and 2006. The series considered the life experiences of adults affected by adoption and what it must be like to start one's life as a foundling.[19] She is of Irish descent.[20]

Adie is a best-selling author:

In 2002 she published her autobiography, The Kindness of Strangers.
In 2003 Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War was published.
In 2005 Nobody's Child, which covers the history of foundling children and questions of identity.
In 2008 Into Danger: People Who Risk Their Lives for Work.
In 2013 Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War One.

In 2017 she was one of the speakers at the Gibraltar International Literary Festival.[21]

Adie was appointed Chancellor of Bournemouth University on 7 January 2019, succeeding Baron Phillips of Worth Matravers.[22]

Adie's role as a BBC television journalist covering the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in Princes Gate, central London, is included in 6 Days. The role was played by actress Abbie Cornish.[23]
The satirical British puppet TV show Spitting Image depicted Adie as a thrill seeker giving her the title "BBC Head of Bravery" and featuring her puppet in dangerous situations.

Awards and honours

Charitable associations

In 2017 Adie was appointed as ambassador for SSAFA, the UK’s oldest military charity.[35] Adie is currently also an ambassador for SkillForce[36] and the non-governmental organisation Farm Africa.[37] In July 2018 Adie became an Ambassador for the medical charity Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal.[38]


  • The Kindness of Strangers, autobiography published by Headline, ISBN 0-7553-1073-X
  • Corsets to Camouflage: Women and War, published by Coronet, ISBN 0-340-82060-8
  • Nobody's Child, published by Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-83800-0
  • Into Danger, published by Hodder & Stoughton, (first ed.), September 2008, ISBN 0-340-93321-6
  • Fighting on the Home Front: The Legacy of Women in World War One, published by Hodder & Stoughton, September 2013, ISBN 978-1-4447-5967-9


  1. "Kate Adie". From Our Own Correspondent. 29 August 2009. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. David Simpson. "Hall of Fame". England's North East.
  3. Summerskill, Ben (14 October 2001). "The Observer Profile: Kate Adie". The Guardian. London.
  4. "Kate Adie CBE". Newcastle University.
  5. "SAFC Foundation founded". Sir Bob Murray.
  6. "Carols of Light charity fundraising event - Durham University". www.dur.ac.uk.
  7. Lisa Hutchinson (8 June 2018). "Local lass and renowned war correspondent Kate Adie, of Sunderland, gets CBE in Queen's Honours List". Evening Chronicle. Newcastle upon Tyne.
  8. "Broadcaster Kate Adie warns of threats to journalism as she collects CBE". British Telecom. Press Association. 11 October 2018. Archived from the original on 28 May 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  9. "Kate Adie visits Bournemouth University". The Breaker. 23 January 2019.
  10. Hutchinson, Lisa (8 June 2018). "Renowned war correspondent Kate Adie given CBE in Queen's Honours List". nechronicle.
  11. Summerskill, Ben (14 October 2001). "The Observer Profile: Kate Adie" via www.theguardian.com.
  12. "Kate Adie". BBC News. BBC. 3 January 2003. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  13. "Kate Adie CBE - Alumni and Supporters - Newcastle University". www.ncl.ac.uk.
  14. "BBC veteran Kate Adie on her role in Kiwi director's new movie". Stuff.
  15. Adie, Kate (2002). The Kindness of Strangers. London: Headline Book Publishing. pp. 336–7, 425.
  16. "He was a smart, rather vain man". BBC News. 22 July 2008.
  17. Adie, Kate (2002). The Kindness of Strangers. London: Headline Book Publishing.
  18. "Adie quits BBC after 35 years". www.telegraph.co.uk. 29 January 2003.
  19. "Found :: Productions". Leopard Films. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  20. Saturday; April 11; 2015 (11 April 2015). "War reporter Adie seeks to solve mystery of Irish father". www.irishexaminer.com.
  21. "Gibraltar Literary Festival – Speakers – International Speakers". www.gibraltarliteraryfestival.com.
  22. "Broadcaster and author Kate Adie begins tenure as new BU Chancellor". www.bournemouth.ac.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  23. Darren Bevan (3 September 2017). "BBC veteran Kate Adie on her role in Kiwi director's new movie". Stuff.co.nz.
  24. "1990 Television Richard Dimbleby Award - BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org.
  25. The 1993 New Year Honours list in The Gazette.
  26. "Kate Adie named as County Deputy Lieutenant". Dorset Echo.
  27. "Kate Adie OBE to Receive BAFTA Fellowship". www.bafta.org. 30 April 2018.
  28. "Kathryn ADIE". www.thegazette.co.uk.
  29. "Honorary Fellows 2006". York St John University.
  30. "Honorary graduates - Your Alumni Community - Alumni - Nottingham Trent University". www.ntualumni.org.uk.
  31. "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". bath.ac.uk. University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  32. "Honorary Awards". www.royalholloway.ac.uk.
  33. "Plymouth University". Archived from the original on 25 June 2014.
  34. "Home". www.bournemouth.ac.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  35. "Kate Adie OBE announced as SSAFA Ambassador". Forces Pension Society. 9 May 2017.
  36. "Patrons Supporting Us – The Prince William Award – Skillforce". Prince William Award.
  37. "Latest news from Farm Africa". www.farmafrica.org.
  38. "Our Ambassadors — Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (OPSA)". Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal (OPSA).
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