Born to an Afro-Caribbean mother and Indian father.After working as a print and broadcast journalist in Trinidad during the 1960s, in 1969, McDonald was employed by BBC Radio as a producer, based in London but still broadcasting to the Caribbean. In 1973, he began his long association with Independent Television News, first as a general reporter, later as a sports correspondent, but ultimately concentrating on international politics. In the 1980s, he spent some time with the ITN-produced Channel 4 News, but returned to ITV in 1989, presenting the early-evening news.
News at Ten
McDonald was promoted in 1992 as the sole presenter of News at Ten and became a well-known face on British television screens. McDonald stayed with ITN when News at Ten was axed in 1999, moving to present the new ITV Evening News. News at Ten was briefly relaunched on 22 January 2001, to which McDonald returned as a presenter. He presented the ITV News at 10.30 following News at Ten's second axing.
McDonald presented his last ITV News bulletin on 15 December 2005. The veteran newsreader stepped down from his role as anchor after more than 30 years at ITN, but said he had no plans to retire completely from television. At the end of the final programme, he signed off with the words:
That brings to an end my association with the news at 10.30. Thank you for watching.
Over the closing titles of the last bulletin that McDonald presented, the November 1992 to March 1999 ITV News at Ten theme was played as a tribute to him.
Return to News at Ten
On 31 October 2007, ITV announced that, early in 2008, McDonald would come out of retirement to present the relaunched News at Ten together with Julie Etchingham. He told a newspaper: "I couldn’t turn down the move back to that iconic time slot."News at Ten began broadcasting once again on 14 January 2008.
On 21 April 2006, McDonald presented an episode of Have I Got News for You; he delivered a number of autocue jokes, some of which were extremely risqué, in his usual somber newscaster manner, the juxtaposition of which prompted team captain Paul Merton, who usually maintains a straight face on the show, to laugh heartily in disbelief on numerous occasions. It was McDonald's first appearance in any capacity on the show since 1992.
McDonald has worked as an editor of poetry anthologies, and his autobiography Fortunate Circumstances was published in 1993.
Lenny Henry's comic character Trevor McDoughnut is a parody of McDonald. McDonald once surprised Henry during a performance of "McDoughnut" on Tiswas by walking into the studio to sit with Henry. McDonald returned to Tiswas on two further occasions. First, a number of weeks after his original surprise appearance, he cropped up during a spoof edition of This Is Your Life to "reminisce" with Lenny Henry about the earlier event. The other appearance occurred during the Tiswas Reunited show (a reunion programme broadcast in June 2007) where McDonald joined Lenny on the sofa once again to look back at the old clips and comment on Henry's impersonation.