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Annie Nightingale, BBC Radio 1’s first female presenter, has died at the age of 83

The legendary broadcaster passed at her London home.

By Nick Reilly

Annie Nightingale (Picture: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Pioneering DJ Annie Nightingale, who was the first female presenter to appear on BBC Radio 1, has died at the age of 83.

Nightingale, who first broadcast on Radio 1 in 1970, was considered to be a true trailblazer for female DJs and broadcasters. In a statement from her family, it was confirmed that Nightingale passed away at her London home after a short illness.

“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.”

They added: “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 new tune they had heard.

“Watching Annie do this on television in the 1970s, 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.”

Her children – Alex, Lucy, Olie and Will – added that her life will be celebrated at a memorial in the spring.

Nightingale joined Radio 1 in 1970 and remained presenting on the network until her death.

Nightingale was BBC Radio 1’s longest-serving host, having joined the station back in 1970 and never left. She presented her final Annie Nightingale Presents…just last month and held the world record for having the longest career as a female radio presenter.

She was also in the inner circle of The Beatles’ and claimed to have been among the first people to know about John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s relationship.

Nightingale was the only female DJ at Radio 1 until Janice Long joined the network in 1982. “From day one, I chose the records I wanted to play, and stuck to it ever since,” she wrote in her 2020 memoir, Hey Hi Hello: Five Decades of Pop Culture From Britain’s First Female DJ.

“I wasn’t there for the ‘exposure’.” I preferred the evenings, where I wouldn’t have to introduce playlist tunes I didn’t like. That would have been like lying to me.”

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