Angela Rippon, the iconic newsreader, achieving a historic milestone on Strictly Come Dancing at the age of 78

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Angela Rippon, the iconic newsreader, achieving a historic milestone on Strictly Come Dancing at the age of 78
A real broadcasting great is among the cast of Strictly Come Dancing's 21st season.

Journalist, newsreader, and host Angela Rippon CBE. She is the oldest celebrity to compete on Strictly in the show's history, coming in at age 78. She also has a unique link to the show because she used to present the BBC's venerable ballroom series Come Dancing, which is the inspiration for the name of Strictly.

Rippon was barely 17 years old when she got her first journalism job on a local newspaper. She was born in Plymouth in 1944 to a seamstress mother and a Royal Marine father (whom she met for the first time in 1947 upon his return from the Second World War).

She persisted in her work at BBC local radio before landing her first TV job for BBC South West in 1966 at the age of 21. She advanced fast through the ranks to become a TV reporter, and in 1974 she hosted her first national news show. She filled in for Richard Baker on BBC One's Nine O'Clock News during the holidays, and the following year, she was given the opportunity to read the news on a permanent basis.

It might be more correct to refer to Rippon as the first female journalist to consistently read the news on national TV, even if she was often referred to be the first female TV newsreader. Over the previous 20 years, female newsreaders had been featured on ITN and the BBC, but not on a national scale.The host has talked about the misogynistic treatment she encountered while working on Nine O'Clock News. She stated in 2019 that when she was reading the news live on TV, a "highly respected" male colleague—who she did not identify—once unzipped his pants and pretended to expose himself to her. Rippon claimed that the encounter left her feeling "disrespected."

Early in her career, Rippon got married. In 1967, at the age of 22, she married engineer Christopher Dare. 22 years later, the couple got divorced.

When Rippon appeared on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1976, she made her debut in the dancing world. She made a comeback the following year in the chorus line and went on to host Come Dancing.Ballroom routines were performed by competitors and members of the public on this show, which aired 424 times between 1949 and 1998. With the moniker Strictly Come Dancing, it was reintroduced in 2004 as a celebrity version, fusing the ferocious edge of Baz Luhrmann's 1992 film Strictly Ballroom with the Come Dancing heritage.

Rippon went on to oversee the BBC's coverage of several high-profile events, such as the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, the 1979 general election, and Princess Diana's 1981 wedding to then-Prince Charles. She would co-host Australia's Channel 7's coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding nearly forty years later. She would return in 2022 to serve as a royal commentator for the Queen's burial.In the entertainment industry, she hosted the first season of Top Gear as well as the game programs Masterteam and Matchpoint. She also started hosting Cash in the Attic in 2007. She has hosted numerous radio shows over the years, including ones for LBC and BBC Radio 2. She has written works for both young readers and adults, including how-to manuals on maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you age.

Rippon's interest in dance dates back to her days hosting Come Dancing. She participated in a newsreader-themed Strictly special for Children in Need and was a Dancing on Ice competitor in 2011.

She was the chair of the English National Ballet from 2000 to 2003 and is still a patron of the Old Time Dance Society. She did, however, resign from the ENB in 2003 when her deputy accused her of "bullying staff." Her tenure there was not without controversy.

Rippon refuted the accusations prior to her departure, stating, "It's not true that I've been intimidating people." They asked me to continue working on other projects. If they had been dissatisfied, I doubt that would have been the case.

Presenting BBC's Rip-Off Britain, Rippon also regularly appears on Morning Live, The One Show, and serves as a stand-in broadcaster for GB News. For her efforts providing dementia care, she was awarded a CBE in 2017.