History Centre Heroes: Angela Rippon

Today’s ‘History Centre Hero’ is a legendary TV pioneer who was born in Plymouth on 12 October 1944.

Angela Mary Rippon has hosted some of the biggest shows on our small screen and was one of the first female news anchors on the BBC.

She was born to an English father called John who was in the Royal Marines, and a Scottish mother called Edna who was a seamstress. As a young girl she attended grammar school in Plymouth.

After leaving school at 17, Rippon joined the photographic office of the Western Morning News. She later worked for Westward Television and BBC South West. These were her first steps towards a high profile presenting career which has lasted for more than 40 years.

Angela Rippon
Plymouth-born Angela Rippon has enjoyed a long career as a successful television presenter and newsreader

In 1974 she presented her first national news programme on BBC Two. The following year she was offered a permanent news-reading role on BBC One’s ‘Nine O’Clock News’ – a role which gave her the honour of being the first female journalist to read the news regularly on British national television.

Aside from her presenting role, one of Rippon’s most memorable early television appearances was as a guest in the 1976 ‘Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show’. She appeared behind a BBC newsdesk and then emerged to perform a high-kicking dance routine. It was so popular that she returned to do a cameo in the 1977 show.

Angela Rippon / Morecambe and Wise
Angela Rippon’s appearance on the 1976 ‘Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show’ proved to be highly popular
Angela Rippon / Dancing on Ice
In 2011, Rippon was seen dancing on our television screens once more as a contestant on ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’

Rippon’s presenting career has seen her find success in a huge variety of genres: quiz shows such as ‘Masterteam’ and ‘What’s My Line’; consumer programmes like ‘Rip Off Britain’ and ‘Holiday Hit Squad; daytime shows such as ‘Sun, Sea and Bargain Spotting’ and ‘Cash in the Attic’; and charitable programmes like ‘Famous, Rich and in the Slums for Comic Relief’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing for Children in Need’.

Some people may not remember, but she was the first-ever presenter of the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’. She has also presented or co-presented many other well-known programmes including ‘Come Dancing’, ‘Antiques Roadshow’, ‘The One Show’ and ‘The Big Breakfast’.

Angela Rippon - Top Gear
Angela Rippon presented the first two series’ of the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’

Other credits on Rippon’s CV include hosting the Eurovision Song Content (1977) and the UK’s general election results (1979). In 1981 she also co-presented the BBC’s coverage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding.

Rippon was also a presenter on, and co-founder of ‘TV-am’. In the 1990s after a high-profile exit from the breakfast franchise, she moved to radio and presented daily news programmes for LBC Newstalk in America.

Rippon has written fourteen books – including the popular children’s series based on the character of ‘Victoria Plum’.

She has an OBE for services to broadcasting, charity and the arts and an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Plymouth University.

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