Angela Rippon: The Rip-Off Britain making Strictly Come Dancing history aged 79
Angela Rippon, a renowned journalist, newsreader, and presenter, is set to make history as the oldest celebrity to participate in Strictly Come Dancing at the age of 79. Rippon has a special connection to the show, as she previously presented the BBC’s long-running ballroom series, Come Dancing, which inspired the creation of Strictly.
Born in Plymouth in 1944, Rippon began her career in journalism at the age of 17, working for a local newspaper. She later joined BBC local radio and landed her first TV role for BBC South West in 1966. Rippon quickly rose through the ranks and hosted her first national news program in 1974. After filling in for Richard Baker on BBC One’s Nine O’Clock News, she was offered a permanent newsreading role the following year.
Although Rippon is often referred to as the first female TV newsreader, it is more accurate to describe her as the first female journalist to regularly read the news on a national level. While both ITN and the BBC had featured female newsreaders in the preceding decades, they had not presented regularly on a national scale.
Rippon has spoken out about her experiences of sexism while working on Nine O’Clock News. In 2019, she revealed that a “highly respected” male colleague had once exposed himself to her while she was reading the news live on air. Rippon expressed feeling disrespected by the incident.
During the early years of her career, Rippon was married to engineer Christopher Dare. They divorced after 22 years of marriage. Rippon’s interest in dance began in 1976 when she performed a routine on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show. She later became one of the hosts of Come Dancing, a show that aired from 1949 to 1998 and featured members of the public and competitive dancers performing ballroom routines. The show was relaunched in 2004 as Strictly Come Dancing, combining the traditions of Come Dancing with the energy of Baz Luhrmann’s film, Strictly Ballroom.
Rippon continued to lead coverage of significant events for the BBC, including the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, the 1979 general election, and the 1981 wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. In recent years, she co-led coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding for Australia’s Channel 7 and served as a royal commentator at the Queen’s funeral in 2022.
In addition to her news career, Rippon has hosted various entertainment shows such as the first edition of Top Gear and quiz panel shows Masterteam and Matchpoint. She became the host of Cash in the Attic in 2007 and has presented numerous radio shows for BBC Radio 2 and LBC. Rippon has also written books for both children and older people, focusing on topics such as fitness and health in old age.
Rippon’s involvement with Come Dancing sparked her long-standing interest in dance. In 2011, she competed on Dancing on Ice and participated in a newsreader-themed Strictly special for Children in Need.
Angela Rippon’s participation in Strictly Come Dancing at the age of 79 is a testament to her enduring passion for dance and her remarkable career in journalism and broadcasting. As she takes to the dance floor, Rippon continues to inspire and entertain audiences, breaking barriers and making history in the process.