Alastair Yates obituary

alastair yates BBC Midlands TV news

Alastair Yates BBC Midlands TV News circa 1979











The following obituary for Alastair Yates, who died 26th July 2018,  is from his daughter Elspeth:

“Daddy. What do you say about a man who has graced our screens and our hearts for over 4 decades? Alastair (Yates) was a gentleman and a gentle man. Born in Burton upon Trent in 1952 he went on to be schooled at Manor House School, Ashby de la Zouch and the Burton Grammar School. His father instilled in him a love for ‘getting things done’ and a ‘lets have a go’ attitude, which permeated his whole life. He could often be found in the garden shed tinkering with broken equipment or making something. We often joked about his Heath Robinson contraptions and solutions.

Al didn’t enjoy school much but found his passion in DJ’ing for local clubs, and soon got himself a radio slot. His smooth tones and love for information however saw the newsroom make a beeline for him, and in 1978 he first appeared on television on the Midlands Today programme. He worked in regional news for 11 years before opening Sky News with Penny Smith in 1989. The BBC snapped him up in 1992 where he helped to launch the new BBC World Service before it changed ultimately to BBC News 24. With a sense of symmetry, Alastair finished his career back on the radio with Classic FM.

Alastair always enjoyed adventures and loved the outdoors. Family holidays were spent on activity breaks in Europe where he would wile away the days sailing and windsurfing while the children learnt to waterski, play tennis or explore local markets.

In his retirement Alastair could always be found on an evening with a glass of his favourite wine, Viognier or Stellenbosch. But he never really retired, he threw himself into charitable endeavours running communications for the Horse Rangers Association and later becoming Chair and communication lead of the ADHD Richmond charity. He spent all his retirement dedicated to expanding the knowledge and research around ADHD and ensuring parents had the tools they needed.

In the days since he has passed we have been in awe at the amount of people that have commented, tweeted and posted about him. There seem to be endless stories and amusing accounts from people around the world but the overriding sentiment is that he was a gentleman and a consummate professional that everyone loved to work with.

Alastair is survived by his long term partner Ginny, children Elspeth, James and Elyan and two grandchildren.”

Elspeth Yates

5 comments on “Alastair Yates obituary
  1. I co- produced Alistair’s Morning Show for Radio Wm with George Mitchell. Alistair was rather unfairly promoted as the ” next big thing” against BRMB . he was professional ,unflappable and urbane -it was ironic tha t diva Dame Joan Collins stormed out of his interview to credit him with achieving the only national tabloid headline ever for Radio Wm!

    sad news indeed.

  2. With the rise of veganism, it reminds me daily of Alistair who stayed at our hotel in Dornoch in 1987. I had never heard of such a thing and as a 29 year old really struggled to feed him for a week!! I was so proud of my pasta dish until he reminded me it used eggs, my sauces with butter & milk, soups with OXO cubes, and the first time I witnessed cornflakes in OJ…we had such a laugh every day. RIP Alistair, I’ll never forget those days x

  3. Back more than 18 years at BBC World News I was a foreign journalism student at Westminster (I had made TV since I was 20 though) I always loved Alistair’s voice, diction, clarity, critical questions and mood. A perfect BBC-presenter with impact and seriousness and he had also a kindness. He had a cold but was on air. I wrote to him about a cure and offered to give it to him. He invited me to a brief tour at the small but impressive studios. Later he left the BBC and I never had the opportunity to book him or meet him. Did not know he had died until just now. My dad died 20 days ago and of course not forgotten. Alistair I will also never forget. My condolences.
    Ulrik, Copenhagen

  4. I was sorry to hear about the passing of Alastair (Al Kay). Just found out today monday 30 August 2021. It was a shock to me. I remember him from Radio Derby, Radio Leicester and Radio Birmingham days. This was 48 years ago. My condolences to all the family.

  5. (Feb 2024) I am so sad to read this. It was in 1970 when I went to work for Alistair’s Dad (Ken and Alice) in Waterloo Street Burton then known as K & KA Yates. The family living in Brizlincote Lane, Bretby, Burton.

    At that time I was their apprentice tv and radio engineer also became the driver for their second-hand furniture business etc.
    It was not long that I soon got roped into being the Al-Kay roadie and right-hand man. After a gig with Al at the 76 Club in Burton Alistair helped me set up my own Roadshow Disco, that being Bob Wood and the Rostrum Roadshow which ran for over 30 years in the Burton-upon-Trent area before my retirement to South France in 2017.
    Many of Al’s gigs were around Derby and Repton, on some occasions taking the Al-Kay show to Birmingham in the firms Transit Van.
    Alistair had an amazing smooth voice on the mic.
    In them very early days Alistair was promoting bands such as Blackfoot Sue and many more of that era. I remember many bands coming to visit Al at the shop in Waterloo Street.
    Alistair theme tune was The Bar-Kays Soul Finger. Even to this day I still have most of his 7” record collection.
    Al took pride in his little green MG that was certainly a lady puller.
    Rest in Peace Al (many good memories)
    Bob Wood

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