Women presenters pay tribute to trailblazer Ford

By Caitlin Pike and Eleanor Ritchie

One
of television news’s first women presenters, Anna Ford, will retire
from newsreading in April next year after a career spanning four
decades.

Ford, 62, began working in television in 1974 on the
newsdesk for Granada TV. In the same year, Sheila Tracey made history
as the first female journalist to read the national news on Radio 4,
and in 1975 Angela Rippon was appointed the first permanent female TV
news presenter at the BBC.

In 1978, Ford began presenting for ITN and in 1981 she worked for TV-am.

It
was after she left TV-am that she was reported to have thrown a glass
of wine over Jonathan Aitken in protest at being asked to leave.

Her
BBC career began in 1976 with Man Alive in 1977, after which she joined
Tomorrow’s World. From 1986 until 1988 she worked on Network. She
joined the BBC One Six O’Clock News team in 1989.

In 1992, Ford took the BBC to task for not employing any on-screen women for its election coverage.

Ford
became the presenter of BBC One’s One O’Clock News when it relaunched
in May 1999, and will present her last bulletin in April 2006 – 30
years after she joined the BBC.

BBC director of news Helen Boaden
said: “We are very sad to be losing such a respected and well loved
journalist, who has been part of the BBC News family for many years.

“However, I know Anna has exciting plans for her future and we all wish her well as she enters the next stage of her life.”

Ford
studied at Manchester University, where she attained a BA Honours
degree in Economics, and was president of the student union from 1966
to 1967.

Although she has not confirmed what will occupy her
after the BBC, Ford is a trustee of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew,
London; Chancellor of Manchester University; a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society and an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple.

BBC women newsreaders on… ANNA FORD

Kate
Silverton, presenter for BBC News 24: “To me, Anna is intelligence,
dignity and integrity. She is a newsreader’s newsreader and has been a
brilliant pioneer for women in our industry.”

Ceri Thompson,
presenter for BBC South East Today: “Anna Ford has been a trailblazer
for female newsreaders like myself, initially as ITN’s first prime-time
female newscaster and now defying ageists by presenting one of the main
BBC television news programmes in her 60s. She has never been afraid to
speak her mind and has opened doors so others can follow. Anna has
proved that women in news broadcasting should know no limitations and
we’re all grateful to her.”

Emily Maitlis, host of BBC London
News: “As well as being a huge inspiration journalistically to all of
us who followed in her wake, Anna has, quite simply, one of the most
beautiful voices in broadcasting. Many freezing nights have I slept
with windows wide open in a vain attempt to emulate The Ford Husk.”

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