One of the original presenters of BBC flagship programme,Top Gear, presenters and motoring journalist, Sue Baker has died. The 67-year-old, who joined the original format of the TV series in 1980, died on Monday morning (November 14) after suffering from motor neurone diseases (MND), her family has confirmed.
Baker had appeared on almost 100 episodes of the BBC series before leaving in 1991, and her role was finally filled by Jeremy Clarkson. Her work included founding and running the Motor Racing News Service, which was located at the Kent racetrack Brands Hatch. She also served as the Observer’s motoring editor for 13 years until leaving in 1995 to work for Saga Magazine and as a freelance writer.
A statement from Baker’s family said: “It is with great sadness that we share the news of Sue’s passing. A doting mother to Ian and Hannah, a loving grandmother to Tom & George, and a wonderful mother-in-law to Lucy. She passed at home this morning with family around her.
“She was a talented and prolific writer, a charismatic TV presenter, and a passionate animal lover. She had a life and career that many would envy, but did it all with such grace that she was admired and respected by all who knew her. We know she meant so much to so many. Thank you to everyone who has supported her over the last few years as she battled with MND.”
Motoring journalists and friends have since paid tribute to the TV icon, praising her for being supportive towards anyone in the industry. The Guild of Motoring Writers, of which Baker was a vice-president and former chair, said they were ‘deeply saddened’ by her death. They said: “Sue was a pioneer for women in automotive journalism and a former presenter of @BBC_TopGear.”
A friend, Giles Chapman described her as a ‘feminist icon’ for being the first woman to become a Fleet Street pro in car journalism at the Observer. He said: “She should be hailed as a feminist icon…she fought a brave and cheerful battle to the end against the horrible MND. A great loss who was a good friend.”
Freelance motoring writer and presenter Vicky Parrot said: “So sorry to hear this. Sue was always kind and supportive towards everyone in the industry; she was particularly encouraging to me when I first went freelance and was feeling all wobbly about it. She’ll be missed. Thoughts are with her and family and friends.”