Strictly Come Dancing star Angela Rippon hit out at the BBC’s former Director General John Birt as she reflected on her time working at the corporation. Speaking at the Tric Awards on Tuesday, Angela, 79, said she was subjected to ageism and misogyny after being told to stand down when she turned 50 because she’d “had her day”.
As she collected her Outstanding Achievement Award at the event, she said on stage: “It’s actually now 57 years since I’ve started doing broadcasting. When I was 50, I had a conversation with the then director general of the BBC, who was called John Birt, who said I was having a bit of a problem with something at the BBC.
“He said to me, ‘Angela, you have to recognise now that you’re 50, you’ve had your day and it’s time to make way for the younger women coming up behind you’. “So he managed to be a misogynist and an ageist in one statement, which I thought was quite a trick, and the thing is, John Birt, you said I’ve had my day, [but] what I’ve actually had right up until now, is the time of my life.”
Express.co.uk has contacted a representative for John and the BBC for comment. Angela began her television career at BBC South West in Plymouth in 1966 when she was 21, before becoming a reporter for BBC TV news.
She has since presented a number of shows for the corporation such as BBC One’s Nine O’Clock News, Top Gear, Holiday Hit, Come Dancing, which aired in the 1950s, and, currently, Rip-Off Britain.
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As part of her lengthy speech, the journalist went on to tell the crowd she was “extremely proud” of the rise in women now fronting national news programmes as she “felt like a novelty” when she first started out.
“When he said I had to make my way for younger women coming up behind me, I have to say one of the great pleasures of my half a century now in broadcasting – I am a little bit older than commercial radio,” she added.
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“To find so many wonderful, young women have climbed up through that hole in the glass ceiling behind me. I am so proud of every one of them, all of those women of all ages now who have demonstrated by their skill and by talent – they’re not fulfilling an HR box ticking exercise,” she added.
She concluded her speech, adding: “And one final message to John Birt, when I was 50, you said I’d had my day. I’m now 79, and I ain’t finished yet!” Speaking to the Plymouth Herald last month, Angela said she still feels like she’s in her 30s and had no plans to retire. She shared: “I have the unique privilege that people still ask me to work and I travel to places and meet people that most would give their right arm to do.
“It’s never occurred to me to retire. I’m not conventional and I still love trying new things. That’s what I mean by ‘ageing dis-gracefully’.”
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