Kaplinsky’s parents are Raphael Kaplinsky, an exiled Jewish South African economics professor at the Open University, and his wife Catherine Kaplinsky née Charlewood, a psychotherapist. Her paternal grandparents originated from Slonim (then in Poland, now in Belarus), and emigrated to South Africa in 1929. Kaplinsky was born in Brighton, but spent her early life in Kenya (where she claims to have been fluent in Swahili), although she later returned to the United Kingdom, where she was brought up in Barcombe, East Sussex.
She attended Ringmer Community College, until the age of sixteen when she moved to Varndean College in Brighton.
After graduating in English from Hertford College, Oxford in 1995, one of her first jobs was working in the press offices of Labour leaders Neil Kinnock and John Smith.
Kaplinsky was the subject of one of a series of BBC television programmes, Who Do You Think You Are?, in which well-known people trace their family trees. Kaplinsky’s programme was broadcast on 6 September 2007. She followed her paternal line to Slonim and was shown official documentation relating to her cousin’s family. This included the death of family members during the “liquidation” – massacre – of the Slonim ghetto by the Nazis and another’s escape to the partisans and eventual emigration to Australia. Her maternal line included an apothecary to King George III.
Kaplinsky started out presenting on F2F, a youth chat show, for Granada Talk TV in 1996 with co-host Sacha Baron Cohen. She then moved to presenting early morning news bulletins at Meridian. Within six months she was co-presenting their evening news programme Meridian Tonight. In 1999 she moved to ITV’s London News Network where she hosted London Today and London Tonight and a political programme called Seven Days.
In November 2000, she moved to Sky News, where she co-presented Live at Five with Jeremy Thompson, as well as the breakfast news programme Sunrise.
Kaplinsky joined the BBC to present BBC Breakfast in November 2002, from Monday to Thursday alongside Dermot Murnaghan, following the departure of Sophie Raworth to present the BBC News at Six. Kaplinsky eventually left Breakfast in May 2005, to become an occasional presenter on the News at Six. Kaplinsky also acted as main weekday presenter on the News at Six, when Sophie Raworth was on maternity leave in October 2005. She was replaced as the main Weekday presenter on Breakfast by Sian Williams.
In 2006, Kaplinsky became only the third woman to present the BBC Ten O’Clock News, after Fiona Bruce (regular presenter) and Sian Williams who had co-presented the programme from the studio in Westminster with Huw Edwards in April 2005. She continued to present on the programme occasionally in 2007, and was also been on the BBC One O’Clock News. From mid-2007, Kaplinsky took part in a trial on BBC One in Birmingham, where she presented a special news update at 8 pm, between 60–90 seconds long.
On 5 October 2007 the BBC confirmed that Kaplinsky had decided to depart the BBC to become a presenter of Five News. She presented her last Six O’Clock News on 5 October with former Breakfast colleague Dermot Murnaghan. Her BBC salary was a reported £175,000 and her salary at Five was reported to be “in excess of” £300,000. This is believed to have made her the highest earning newsreader in Britain.
Five News with Natasha Kaplinsky
On 18 February 2008 Natasha presented her first broadcast for Five. Her first bulletin which aired at 17:00 was reported to have been watched by a million viewers, Five chose to feature BedroomTV – a music channel produced by amateurs at home (she also presented a second programme at 19:00), she presented Monday to Thursday with news correspondent Matt Barbet presenting each Friday.
On 21 August 2008, Natasha begun her first maternity leave from Five, Isla Traquair and Matt Barbet stood in for her until 16 February 2009. Following her return she discontinued presenting the second programme. From 18 March 2010 she is on her second maternity leave with Matt Barbet again standing in for her.
On 14 October 2010, Kaplinsky announced that she is to leave her job at Channel 5 at the end of 2010, having spent much of her three years at the broadcaster on maternity leave. On 23 December 2010, Kaplinsky left Five News after fronting the programme as main presenter since 2008. Kaplinsky announced that Matt Barbet would be taking over from her.
ITV News & return to London Tonight
On 3 August 2011, it was announced that Kaplinsky is due to anchor London Tonight and occasional ITV News bulletins from September 2011 in the absence of Nina Hossain. It is thought that she will leave ITV in spring 2012.
Away from the news
In 2004, she participated in the first series of the celebrity ballroom dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing and along with partner Brendan Cole, went on to win the competition. She then co-presented the first half of the second series in 2004 with Bruce Forsyth, as maternity cover for regular presenter, Tess Daly.
She has also appeared in a number of episodes of the sitcom My Hero, reading the news, mainly reports of character Thermoman’s heroic deeds. In July 2005 she hosted the one-off special Strictly African Dancing alongside Martin Offiah. Kaplinsky has also hosted Making Your Mind Up, the UK qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest.
On 18 November 2005, Kaplinsky hosted the BBC’s annual Children in Need charity telethon, alongside Fearne Cotton and Terry Wogan, and again in 2006, on 17 November. Kaplinsky also presented the BBC’s New Year Live, celebrating the arrival of the year 2006 and 2007. She has also made at least one appearance on Have I Got News For You, also with Bruce Forsyth hosting.
In 2008, she made a cameo appearance in the BBC television series Torchwood as archive footage for the millennium in the directory of geological studies by DkMd in 2005. Kaplinsky returned to television in July 2011, hosting the new series Born to Shine for ITV.
On 21 August 2005, Kaplinsky married Justin Bower, an investment banker from London at Babington House, Somerset, whom she met on a blind date six months earlier.
In April 2008, Kaplinsky announced she was pregnant with their first child, six weeks after her debut on Five News. On 25 September 2008, Five News revealed that Kaplinsky had given birth to a son, whom she and Bower later named Arlo, over two weeks after he was born.
On 7 October 2009, Natasha informed Five bosses she was pregnant again. On 9 April 2010 she gave birth to a daughter, Angelica Pearl Bower.
On 8 February 2011, Natasha commented in a BBC radio interview with Steve Wright in the Afternoon that she and her husband Justin Bower had performed as disguised extras for the English National Ballet although she “had insisted that her name was not used in the programme”. In the production of Romeo and Juliet she had performed as “Wench number 7” at the London Coliseum.