Today’s incredible #ForteFemale is Angela Rippon, a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for over 50 years. The career of this award-winning journalist has embraced an impressive variety of programmes on both radio and television for both Commercial and BBC stations in Britain, America and Australia. Here, Irene interviews Angela about being a trailblazer for women in broadcast journalism.
YOU WERE THE FIRST FEMALE JOURNALIST TO PRESENT THE NEWS ON BBC IN 1975. YOUR CAREER HAS SPANNED DECADES AND SHOWS NO SIGNS OF STOPPING. WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I always feel that I am uniquely privileged to be doing a job I love and enjoy. I have never thought of myself as someone working in news and current affairs - even though that is the foundation of everything I have done throughout my career. I have embraced every opportunity that has come my way to try something new, from being challenged with a new programme idea or going out on a limb and doing something unexpected. Perhaps that is why, after 56 years in television, I am still being challenged and asked to work on such a variety of programmes.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEANINGFUL BROADCAST JOB AND WHY?
There have been so many, it is difficult to choose. ‘Rip Off Britain’ has certainly been a terrific programme to work on as it is public service broadcasting at its very best. We solved problems, warned viewers of scams and rip-offs, and we were constantly being told by our viewers “We love your programme, we learn so much and you have saved us money.”
THERE WERE VERY FEW WOMEN IN THE NEWSROOM WHEN YOU STARTED. HOW HAS THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN JOURNALISM CHANGED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?
Virtually the only women in the newsroom when I first started working at BBC News in the television centre, were secretaries. When I started reading the news, it was seen as something of a phenomenon as I was, at first, the only woman presenting a major national television news programme. Now women are not just reading the news, they are holding positions of authority as highly respected commentators and specialists in every aspect of broadcasting - sport, politics, science, education, and economy. In the field, they report from all over the world on the front line in areas of conflict and within the executives of the BBC, they are programme controllers - Charlotte Moore for instance - executive producers, directors, and commissioners. Women now fill every role within the broadcast industry and take their place alongside male colleagues at every level. They are respected and valued. In 50 years, things have changed enormously.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING FEMALE JOURNALISTS TODAY?
Believe in your ability and follow your dreams and ambitions. If you are good enough, you will make it.
WHEN YOU WERE IN YOUR 50s, YOU WERE ASKED TO STEP ASIDE TO MAKE ROOM FOR YOUNGER PRESENTERS COMING UP BEHIND YOU. DO YOU THINK THERE IS STILL AN IMPLICIT BIAS THAT WOMEN HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE?
In a word, No. I am now 78 and still working full-time with new job opportunities occurring all the time. Looking at my colleagues on ‘Rip Off Britain,’ Gloria Hunniford is 82 and Julia Somerville is 74, and we have at least another year commissioned for the programme. In addition, so many women who have followed us in broadcasting are now in their 50s and well-established highly professional competent broadcasters. It is highly unlikely that their expertise and ability will be squandered by executives asking them to “stand down.”
AT IRENE FORTE SKINCARE, OUR TEAM IS FEMALE-FOUNDED AND STAFFED ENTIRELY BY WOMEN OF DIVERSE AGE. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS, IN 2023, TO CONTINUE TO CELEBRATE AND LIFT UP OTHER WOMEN?
Women have made such amazing strides in all aspects of professional life in the past 70 years. Compared to the anti-female attituded that restricted our grandmothers and great-grandmothers in education and opportunities, we are flying. In my own industry of broadcasting, I have seen male attitudes change dramatically toward women, as their skills, knowledge and ability have been recognised and rewarded. The support of other women, our “sisters,” is just as important. We need to encourage those young women starting out in the world and be there for them as mentors and friends so that they can each attain their own professional goals and potential.
WE HAVE TO ASK – IS AGE SIMPLY A NUMBER?
Of course, it is. In my head, I am still in my 30s or 40s. My birth certificate tells a different story.
YOU EAT SENSIBLY, DO PILATES, CYCLE, POWER WALK AND PLAY TENNIS. DO YOU HAVE ANY WELLNESS TIPS TO SHARE?
Be nice to yourself. Laugh a lot and live your life to the full. We only get one go at this.
AS A FACE OF BRITISH BROADCASTING, HOW IMPORTANT HAS SKINCARE BEEN IN PREPARING TO BE ON CAMERA, AND WHAT ARE YOUR TOP BEAUTY TIPS?
Since I was a teenager, I have always looked after my skin. I had teenage acne for a few years, so skincare became a way of life for me at quite a young age. I cleanse and moisturise every morning and evening. Exfoliate once a week to rid my skin of the dead outer layer and keep it fresh. Take a “holiday” for make-up when I am not working and just lavish my skin with moisture.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER IRENE FORTE SKINCARE?
It came as a lovely surprise as a gift from my friend.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE IRENE FORTE SKINCARE PRODUCT AND WHY?
The Hibiscus Night Cream is wonderful.
WHAT ROLE DOES SELF-CARE PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?
I love my job, but it can be demanding in the hours I work and the demands it makes on me physically and mentally, so looking after myself is of paramount importance. Keeping fit and eating well is only part of it. Enjoying “me” time either with friends or at a spa is the ultimate indulgence, and the perfect antidote to a hectic schedule.