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Annie Nightingale: Tributes paid following death of ‘original trailblazer’ and Radio 1’s first female DJ | Ents & Arts News


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Tributes have been paid to the “original trailblazer” and broadcast icon Annie Nightingale – Radio 1’s first female DJ – who has died aged 83.

Nightingale started presenting on Radio 1 in 1970 and became its longest-serving broadcaster, hosting her show Annie Nightingale presents… until late last year.

She was awarded an MBE in 2002 and a CBE in 2020. In 2004, she became the first female DJ from Radio 1 to be inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame.

In a statement, Nightingale’s family said she died at home in London on Thursday, following a short illness, and hailed her for “breaking down doors” throughout her career.

Zoe Ball and Annie Mac, who have both presented Radio 1 shows, led tributes from colleagues and friends, with Ball describing her as “the original trailblazer for us women in radio”.

Read more:
How Annie Nightingale changed the industry forever

“She loved music like no other… and could out last any of us at the party,” she said.

“So grateful for all the love & support she offered me over the years. What a dame… rest well.”

Annie Mac, who hosted a variety of Radio 1 shows over 17 years, said Nightingale was a “trailblazer, spirited, adventurous, fearless, hilarious, smart, and so good at her job”.

Annie Nightingale arriving for the opening night gala for Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones exhibition held at the Saatchi Gallery,

Nightingale’s family described how she became a role model for generations of young women.

“Her impulse to share that enthusiasm with audiences remained undimmed after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally,” Nightingale’s family said.

“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.

“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.”

‘Thanks to Annie, things will never be the same’

A celebration of Nightingale’s life will take place in the spring, they said.

Radio 1 shared a photo of the renowned DJ on social media, saying the station was “extremely saddened” about her death.

Norman Cook and radio dj Annie Nightingale
With Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, in 2001

BBC director-general Tim Davie described her as “a uniquely gifted broadcaster who blessed us with her love of music and passion for journalism, for over 50 years”, as well as “a trailblazer for new music” and a “champion for female broadcasters, supporting and encouraging other women to enter the industry”.

Head of Radio 1 Aled Haydn Jones described Nightingale as “a world-class DJ, broadcaster and journalist”, who championed new music and new artists “throughout her entire career”.

He added: “We have lost a broadcasting legend and, thanks to Annie, things will never be the same.”

Greg James, Zoe Ball, Jo Whiley and more pay tribute

Nightingale first broadcast on the BBC in 1963 as a panellist on Juke Box Jury, before joining Radio 1 seven years later.

She remained the station’s only female DJ until 1982, which saw the arrival of Janice Long, and is credited with helping to pave the way for the likes of Sara Cox, Jo Whiley and Ball.

Whiley described her as “the coolest woman who ever graced the airwaves”.

Jo Whiley and Annie Nightingale
Jo Whiley and Annie Nightingale

Sharing a black and white picture of the broadcaster in a radio studio on X, Whiley wrote: “She blazed a trail for us all and never compromised. Her passion for music never diminished.”

Over the years, Nightingale rubbed shoulders with stars including the late David Bowie and The Beatles, and was a guest on occasion at the band’s Apple Studios in London during the 1960s.

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Her life and achievements “were so extraordinary you couldn’t possibly sum them up on here”, wrote Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Greg James on X.

“It was such a treat if you happened to be in the building at the same time as her,” he wrote. “She was always so interested in what everyone else was up to. We’re going to miss her so much. She was just absolutely amazing.”

Glastonbury Festival co-organiser Emily Eavis also joined the tributes, sharing on Instagram how the DJ helped her when she was younger.

“Goodbye dear Annie, a female trailblazer and true enthusiast,” she wrote. “Annie gave me so much support when I was in my twenties, I always felt so grateful to have such a strong woman encouraging me along the way and I’m sure she has done the same for many others like me.

“She was an inspiration to so many women in music, broadcasting and beyond and just a lovely human being.”

Nightingale had two children, Alex and Lucy, from her first marriage to writer Gordon Thomas.

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