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BBC Radio 1's first female presenter Annie Nightingale has died aged 83

The Radio DJ and broadcaster had held a slot on the BBC for over five decades

  • 13 January 2024
BBC Radio 1's first female presenter Annie Nightingale has died aged 83

Radio DJ and broadcaster, Annie Nightingale, has died aged 83 according to a family statement.

The family shared that Nightingale passed away on January 11 at her home in London after “a short illness”.

The statement continues: “Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer and an inspiration to many. Her impulse to share that enthusiasm with audiences remained undimmed after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally.

“Never underestimate the role model she became. Breaking down doors by refusing to bow down to sexual prejudice and male fear gave encouragement to generations of young women who, like Annie, only wanted to tell you about an amazing tune they had just heard.”

It continues: “Watching Annie do this on television in the 1970's, most famously as a presenter on the BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test, or hearing her play the latest breakbeat techno on Radio One is testimony to someone who never stopped believing in the magic of rock 'n' roll.”

The family statement adds that a memorial service for Annie Nightingale will take place in spring.

In 1970, Nightingale made history by becoming the first female presenter on BBC Radio 1 after persisting on the decision for three years.

The job was given to her after finally being given an audition by her friends The Beatles and their staff at Apple Records.

She remained the only female DJ at Radio 1 for 12 years but helped launch the careers of multiple female DJs such as Lauren Laverne, Jo Whiley, Zoe Ball and Annie Mac.

Whilst at the BBC she interviewed the likes of Clive James, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin, Sting, Duran Duran, The Who and many more influential figures.

Later in 1989, Nightingale hosted an interview TV series for ITV, One To One where she conducted interviews with a range of artists such as episodes with Debbie Harry, Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Peter Gabriel, John Taylor of Duran Duran, and Status Quo.

After this, she returned to the BBC on TV presenting on Old Grey Whistle Test and Late Night In Concert where she championed a huge list of artists including Blondie, Talking Heads, The Rolling Stones, The Clash and many others.

In the 1990s Nightingale became a pioneer for the acid house revolution by playing it on her show pushing it forth into the mainstream where she went on to present a later slot on Radio 1 on Sunday nights before late-night party slots on Friday and Saturday nights.

Nightingale continued to support the electronic music scene from here onwards including the launch of the Radio 1 scholarships in 2021 where she championed female and non-binary DJs.

She remained on air until late last year with Annie Nightingale Presents.

BBC Radio 1 has shared the following statement: "BBC Radio 1 is extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Radio 1 DJ, Annie Nightingale CBE. Our deepest condolences are with Annie’s friends and family at this incredibly difficult time. Rest in peace, Annie".

According to the BBC, Head of Radio 1 Aled Haydn Jones has said: "All of us at Radio 1 are devastated to lose Annie, our thoughts are with her family and friends.

"Annie was a world class DJ, broadcaster and journalist, and throughout her entire career was a champion of new music and new artists.

"She was the first female DJ on Radio 1 and over her 50 years on the station was a pioneer for women in the industry and in dance music.

"We have lost a broadcasting legend and, thanks to Annie, things will never be the same."

Tributes to the late broadcaster have been flooding in from fans. See below.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

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