BBC journalist Angela Rippon has revealed that a colleague pretended to expose himself to her off-camera while she was reading the nine o’clock news live in front of 10m people.
Rippon, who read the BBC evening news from 1975 to 1981, has refused to identify the prankster, but described him as “one of the BBC’s highly respected reporters at the time”.
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The 74-year-old told BBC Radio 4’s The Reunion programme that she had assumed he had been bringing her a script when he walked into the studio where she was broadcasting alone.
“I had quite a long read so I was looking straight at the camera and I realised he’d walked to my right-hand side of the camera and out of the corner of my eye I realised that he was unzipping his flies and as he was doing that suddenly there was something white in his hand being wiggled around while I was reading the news,” she said.
“I got to the end of the read and we went into a film and I looked across and what he’d actually done was unzipped his flies and taken out the bottom end of his shirt – and obviously I was supposed to think he was wiggling his penis at me.”
Rippon, who currently presents BBC One’s Rip Off Britain alongside Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville, said she told the man to “grow up” and “get out” after the crude prank.
“I was angry because I felt that this was so disrespectful,” she said.
The journalist said she had never reported the incident – nor talked about it publicly before – because she didn’t want newsroom staff at the time to think “that Rippon can’t take a joke”.
She said she believed the man would have received a “slap on the wrist” if she had told bosses about his behaviour, but not sacked, adding: “I always feel that I got my revenge, if you like, because I didn’t react.”