Belfast Telegraph

Rippon honoured at WFTV awards

Angela Rippon has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award at an event recognising women in broadcasting.

The 69-year-old former newscaster, who presents BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, collected her prize from BBC director-general Tony Hall at the Sky Women in Film and TV (WFTV) Awards in London.

Other winners at the event included actress Sheridan Smith who took the best performance award for her portrayal of great train robber Ronnie Biggs' wife Charmian in ITV drama Mrs Biggs.

And the academic Mary Beard, who has worked on many historical documentary series, took the best presenter award at the 23rd annual awards event, staged at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel.

Angela was the first regular female newsreader on national television in the UK, beginning her journalism career more than half a century ago and becoming a recognisable figure in the 1970s. She memorably showed her lighter side by dancing on the Morecambe And Wise Christmas special in 1976.

She has gone on to present an array of programmes including Top Gear, Antiques Roadshow and was even a guest judge - later to become a contestant - on ITV's Dancing On Ice.

Hosted by Ruby Wax, other winners at the event included screenwriter Kelly Marcel - who is working on the Fifty Shades Of Grey script - and ITV News presenter Ronke Phillips, who was recognised for her work on the "torso in the Thames" story.

Kate Kinninmont, chief executive of WFTV, said: " Year after year these awards celebrate creativity and excellence - there is no shortage of talented women in film and television."

Speaking about her honour, Angela said: "It's fantastic to be getting this award, especially coming from women in film and television because these are my colleagues and my peers.

"For women there have been huge strides forward, we now have women in jobs that were previously considered to be purely the domain of men. Women have just done what I always knew they could do and what they always knew they could do, which is demonstrate that they are there on merit, that they are as good if not in some cases better than some of the men they work against.

"They are given the jobs they're given because they are really good at what they do and they're taking their absolute rightful place on screen and behind the screen as major women of influence."

Beard was pleased with the recognition she received, and pointed out she had found success without having to compromise her image with a TV makeover. But she acknowledged that there are expectations of how women are expected to look on screen and she has occasionally come in for unkind comments because of her long grey hair.

"I've stuck out quite a bit for saying I'm going to be me - I'm a classicist, I'll tell you what I know, I'll do it as well as I can. That wasn't without controversy.

"There are not many grey-haired women on television. I quite often fantasise about dyeing my hair pink, it would be great fun. If that's what you want to do it's fine, but the idea that you could never get a job on telly if you've got grey hair - what do people think 50-year-old women look like? They look like me mostly."

She went on: "There are still underbellies of, not active discrimination, but mental discrimination. People expect that women on telly won't be great. There's no rule there, you can't claim formal discrimination but everybody closes their eyes, they think of a newsreader and they don't think of a grey-haired woman, they think of a grey-haired man. When you say a man's ambitious that's a compliment, when you say a woman's ambitious that's not always a compliment."

Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat, a guest at the event, pointed out that he was surrounded by talented women in his work.

"My company is run by my wife and my mother-in-law, so it's an all-female company apart from me, so that makes me pretty much a woman. I am a woman," he joked.

Peter Capaldi, who is to star as the next regeneration of The Doctor, added: "My wife is an executive producer, so we're just here as the husbands."


From Belfast Telegraph