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Remembering Annie Nightingale

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Remembering Annie Nightingale

Tributes have been paid to Nightingale who became the first female DJ on Radio 1.

Annie’s family in a statement announced her death aged 83. It notes that the radio and television broadcaster ‘passed away yesterday at her home in London after a short illness’ it went on to note that’ Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer and an inspiration to many. Her impulse to share that enthusiasm with audiences remained undimmed after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally. Never underestimate the role model she became. Breaking down doors by refusing to bow down to sexual prejudice and male fear gave encouragement to generations of young women who, like Annie, only wanted to tell you about an amazing tune they had just heard.’

The family announcement added, ‘Watching Annie do this on television in the 1970s, most famously as a presenter on the BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test, or hearing her play the latest breakbeat techno on Radio One is testimony to someone who never stopped believing in the magic of rock ‘n’ roll.’.

BBC Director-General, Tim Davie:

“I’m deeply saddened by Annie’s passing and our thoughts are with her family, many friends and the whole of Radio 1. Annie was a uniquely gifted broadcaster who blessed us with her love of music and passion for journalism, for over 50 years. As well as being a trailblazer for new music, she was a champion for female broadcasters, supporting and encouraging other women to enter the industry. We will all miss her terribly.”

BBC Publicity picture handout from 1976: Annie Nightingale

Annie Nightingale became Radio 1’s first female presenter and became its longest-serving host having joined the station in 1970 and remained the only woman on the line-up for 12 years.

Born Annie Avril Nightingale on the 1st of April 1940 in Osterley, Middlesex, the daughter of Celia and Basil Nightingale. She ventured into the world of media via The Polytechnic of Central London’s School of Journalism getting her break as a Journalist in Brighton with local newspaper the Brighton and Hove Gazette. In the sixties it wasn’t the hip sounds of pirate radio or Radio 1 but the thrashing noise of typewriters as Annie filed reports later moving to television, both as a reporter for BBC’s Southampton and Bristol based news programme South Today, and light entertainment and music programmes for the Southern Television, the ITV station for the south.

Nightingale moved up in the print world by joining the Brighton Evening Argus, as a general reporter, feature writer, and diarist. The latter involved interviews with Sean Connery in his first James Bond role and Peter Sellers on location. She became the newspaper’s first pop music columnist. It is however her work with BBC Radio 1 from 1970 until last year that she will be best remembered showcasing music that possibly wouldn’t otherwise be heard on the Beeb. Annie was also the first female presenter for BBC Two music series The Old Grey Whistle Test where she stayed for eleven years.

BBC Publicity picture handout from 1970: Annie Nightingale

Aled Haydn Jones, Head of BBC Radio 1:

“All of us at Radio 1 are devastated to lose Annie, our thoughts are with her family and friends. Annie was a world class DJ, broadcaster and journalist, and throughout her entire career was a champion of new music and new artists. She was the first female DJ on Radio 1 and over her 50 years on the station was a pioneer for women in the industry and in dance music. We have lost a broadcasting legend and, thanks to Annie, things will never be the same.”

Nightingale specialised in championing new and underground music, she also led the movement and encouraged other women to become DJs and broadcasters. She was BBC Radio 1’s longest-serving broadcaster and held the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a female radio presenter. Annie also had stints on BBC Radio 2 and was part of the ‘Radio 1 Pop Up Station’ to mark its 50th anniversary. The family note in their statement that a celebration of Annie’s life would take place at a memorial service in the spring.

Lorna Clarke, BBC Director of Music:

“She was a fierce pioneer for new music and supporting female talent and will be hugely missed by her many supporters from around the world.”

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