Broadcasting legend Annie Nightingale has died at the age of 83.

The British DJ and television presenter passed away at her home in London yesterday (January 11) “after a short illness”, a statement from her family confirmed today (January 12).

“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,” the message read.

“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 continued: “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.

“A celebration of her life will take place in the Spring at a Memorial Service.”

Nightingale was BBC Radio 1’s longest-serving host, having joined the station back in 1970. From then, she remained the only female DJ on the schedule for a 12-year period. Nightingale presented her final Annie Nightingale Presents… show last month.

The DJ was given an MBE for services to radio broadcasting in 2002 before being appointed CBE in 2020. She became the first female DJ from Radio 1 to be inducted into the Radio Academy Hall Of Fame in 2004.

In a statement on social media, a spokesperson for Radio 1 said the station “was extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Radio 1 DJ, Annie Nightingale CBE”. The post added: “Our deepest condolences are with Annie’s friends and family at this incredibly difficult time. Rest in peace, Annie 🤍.”

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, said: “I’m deeply saddened by Annie’s passing and our thoughts are with her family, many friends and the whole of Radio 1.

“Annie was a uniquely gifted broadcaster who blessed us with her love of music and passion for journalism, for over 50 years. As well as being a trailblazer for new music, she was a champion for female broadcasters, supporting and encouraging other women to enter the industry.”

Aled Haydn Jones, Head Of BBC Radio 1, added: “All of us at Radio 1 are devastated to lose Annie, our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

He continued: “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.”

Lorna Clarke, BBC Director Of Music, commented: “She was a fierce pioneer for new music and supporting female talent and will be hugely missed by her many supporters from around the world.”

BBC DJs Zoe Ball, Greg James, Lauren Laverne and Jo Whiley have also paid tribute online. “My hero. My inspiration,” the latter wrote on Instagram Stories. “Thank you for it all Annie. Cool as fuck to the end.”

In 2021, Radio 1 launched the Annie Nightingale Scholarship for emerging DJs – an initiative designed to champion up-and-coming women and non-binary DJs in the dance scene.

Upon announcing the venture, she said: “Ever since I began, I have wanted to help other young broadcasters passionate about music to achieve their dreams on the airwaves, and now, we at Radio 1 are to put that on a proper footing.”

In 2010, Liam Gallagher presented Nightingale with a Guinness World Record award for serving 40 years as a presenter at Radio 1.

She remembered at the time: “When I took the wrong record off and caused eight seconds of dead air on my very first Radio 1 show, I thought that was the beginning and end of me. Since then I think it’s been a case of keep cool and carry on.”

Nightingale became the main presenter of BBC Two music show The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978, taking over from long-time host Bob Harris. She also helmed occasional shows on Radio 2, 5 Live and 6 Music, as well as fronting numerous documentaries


This is a breaking news story – more to follow… 

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