By Amie Gordon For MailOnline
Kay Burley is the pragmatic information viper who enjoys holding MPs to account – but has not been without her own share of controversy in a broadcasting career spanning more than three decades.
The ambitious presenter has risen through the ranks of the broadcast world and claims “more hours of live television than anyone else”, but regularly divides opinion with her outspoken attacks on politicians.
The 60-year-old rarely talks about her personal life, although she once admitted she had “two successful marriages” – but “hated being married”.
Left to right: Tony Blackburn, Peter Marshall, Derek Jameson, Andrew Neil, Alastair Yates, Rupert Murdoch, Penny Smith, Bob Friends, Kay Burley at the Sky TV launch on February 5, 1989
In her early twenties, Miss Burley had already divorced her first husband, Steve Burley, whom she met when she was 17, in a local newspaper in Wigan, and got married at the age of 19. years.
She moved to Sky at the age of 28, and three years later met her second husband, football agent Steve Kutner.
At the age of 32, she was pregnant with their son, Alexander, but the couple broke up when he was one year old.
Mother and son remain close and in her Twitter bio she describes herself as “a founding member of Sky News.” Animal lover. Mountaineer. Incredibly proud mom.
She had a relationship with the former political editor of The Sun newspaper, George Pascoe-Watson for five and a half years, but they separated soon after he left the newspapers for a job in public relations in 2009.
In December 2017, Miss Burley was joined at Piers Morgan’s birthday party by her overnight date British Airways pilot Jonny Knowlson, with whom she was seen spending an evening at the Tate Modern two months earlier.
In 2008, Miss Burley clashed with a photographer during the melee in a London court ahead of a case involving Naomi Campbell
Jonny, who at the age of 30 was Kay’s youngest of 27, met the presenter when she called on four ‘strong and competent’ British Airways pilots to help her overcome her fear to fly earlier that year.
In 2011, Miss Burley turned to writing fiction by publishing her first novel First Ladies; “an irresistible cross between The Thick Of It and Jilly Cooper” in which “the glamorous worlds of glossy magazines, television and politics are laid bare.”
In an article for the Daily Mail last year, Burley said it was “absurd that wrinkles are a better look for a mature woman” as she spoke about the way she had treated her Miss self of a facelift for its 50th anniversary.
She admitted to “touching” Botox and fillers, as well as having a lower lift, brow lift and bags under her eyes.
The brawl happened as they waited for model Naomi Campbell to arrive to face assault charges against airport police
She added: “Women, especially those in the public eye, are always judged more severely than their male counterparts.”
The 59-year-old was born to parents Kath and Frank in Wigan, Lancashire at the start of the Swinging Sixties and has often praised her late parents for giving her a “loving” education.
She said the family had no money but her parents were “amazing”.
Miss Burley began her career as a journalist with the Lancashire Evening Post and Chronicle at the age of 17, before becoming a journalist at Granada Reports in 1981 as a researcher for Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.
In 1985, she was offered a job as a journalist at TV-am before moving to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky in 1988, where she was the head of the brand new Sky News.
Kay Burley walks out on camera outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital on July 22, 2013 ahead of Prince George’s birth
Miss Burley quickly rose through the ranks to become her main reporter, announcing the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and was live in 2001 when the New York Twin Towers were attacked.
The 9/11 coverage earned her a Bafta, which she “keeps in the bathroom”.
She received a new plum gig in September 2018 when she received her own show in her name, which 12 months later moved into the morning prime-time slot and was renamed Kay Burley @ Breakfast.
The agenda-setting concert – set at the heart of Britain’s Brexit negotiations and general election – is filmed live in Westminster and sees Miss Burley joined by a host of politicians and critics.
Last year, Miss Burley admitted that she “found it hard to resist” being “sucked in by the aura” and charisma of political figures such as Boris Johnson, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
But sitting in Sky’s hot seat has led Miss Burley to be accused of her fair share of controversies.
Then Prime Minister David Cameron meets Miss Burley at a reception to celebrate the achievements of women in the media at 10 Downing St on May 16, 2013
In 2008, Miss Burley clashed with a photographer during the melee in a London court as they awaited the arrival of model Naomi Campbell to face assault charges against airport police.
The presenter was apparently hit in the cheek by a camera – and was later seen with her hand around a photographer’s throat.
The collapse came as 100 journalists were fighting to get a view of the model at Uxbridge Magistrates Court in north-west London.
It has been suggested that the photographer, Kirsty Wigglesworth of the Associated Press, had stumbled upon Miss Burley.
That same year, Miss Burley was inundated with criticism when she asked the wife of Suffolk serial killer Steve Wright: “Do you think if you had had a better sex life he wouldn’t have done? that ?”
Miss Burley admitted she “found it hard to resist” being “sucked in by the aura” and charisma of political figures such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Boris Johnson (pictured together here in 2019)
In 2010, she had to apologize for joking that US Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, who had ashes on his forehead to mark Ash Wednesday, had a “bruise” he picked up by “entering a door”.
Labor MP Chris Bryant later told him: ‘You seem to be a little weak, if you don’t mind me saying so.’
Miss Burley fired back: “This is the first time anyone has said on TV that I’m weak and it was water on a duck’s back. There’s a picture of Chris Bryant on the internet in his underwear that he took for a gay site. We can judge who is the weakest.
In September 2019, she had a standoff with Brexit Party MEP Lucy Harris when she was accused of not being impartial and voting for Remain. The conversation turned heated when Miss Burley accused Ms Harris of being exaggerated by saying the Remainers wanted 15 referendums until they got the outcome they wanted.
Just two months later, Miss Burley sparked a flurry of complaints from Ofcom after she was accused of a “cheap blow” to the Conservative chairman of the empty presidency, James Cleverly, on her show.
In 2011, Burley turned to writing fiction, publishing his first novel First Ladies; ‘an irresistible cross between The Thick Of It and Jilly Cooper’ in which ‘the glamorous worlds of glossy magazines, television and politics are laid bare’
Miss Burley showed an empty chair and claimed Mr Cleverly had refused to appear – but insisted he had not agreed to an interview with her and was in the process of having another interview.
The presenter repeatedly pointed to the empty chair and reeled off a series of questions she intended to ask him, prompting a series of complaints from viewers.
Speaking to The Times, she said they had since “kissed and reconciled” after meeting for lunch to smooth things over.
At the height of the pandemic, Miss Burley ripped apart Cabinet Minister Michael Gove after appearing on Sky News to defend Dominic Cummings for breaking coronavirus restrictions.
She added: “What people are seeing here is that there is one rule for you … and another for them.”