Julia Somerville

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Julia Mary Fownes Somerville
Born Julia Mary Fownes Somerville
(1947-07-14) 14 July 1947 (age 67)
Ethnicity English
Occupation Journalist, newsreader
Notable credit(s) BBC Nine O'Clock News, ITV News at Ten
Spouse(s) Stephen Band (1970 - 1975, no children)
Ray Gowdridge (1984 - 1992, two children)
Sir Jeremy Dixon (??? - present)
Children Joseph Gowdridge
Rachael Gowdridge

Julia Mary Fownes Somerville, Lady Dixon OBE (born 14 July 1947, Somerset) is a British television news anchor and reporter, who has worked for the BBC and ITN.


Granddaughter of Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Fownes Somerville (1882-1949) of Dinder House in Somerset, she was educated at Airthrie Preparatory School in Cheltenham [1] and Headington School in Oxford, graduating (1969) from the University of Sussex (BA English Literature).[2]


On graduation Somerville joined publisher IPC, working on Homes and Gardens magazine, a Women's Journal, the PR section of Woman's Own.[3] Then for two years she was editor of a computer group's house magazine.[3]

Somerville joined the BBC in 1972 as a sub-editor in the radio newsroom,[4] and then became a reporter in 1978. In 1981 she became Labour Affairs correspondent, and in 1983 joined BBC Television News to become one of the most recognised faces on television, co-presenting the BBC Nine O'Clock News.[4][5] Somerville was the anchor on the BBC News report broadcast on 23 October 1984 which Bob Geldof watched and inspired Band Aid, and ultimately Live Aid.

Somerville moved to ITN in 1987,[5] where she co-presented the Lunchtime News and also deputised as presenter of News at Ten.[4] In addition she presented 3D, a weekly ITV current affairs programme. She was diagnosed as having a brain tumour in August 1992, and after neurosurgery recovered well and was a member of the News at Ten team until it ended a 32-year run in 1999. She remained at ITN until October 2001, presenting the ITV Lunchtime News with John Suchet and was the launch anchor for the ITN News Channel.[4]

Between 1999 and 2001 Somerville presented the daily LBC radio show London Life, a two-hour programme devoted to interviews with diverse artists.[5]

Somerville has a lifelong interest in painting, and was in 2001 a member of the judging panel for the National Portrait Gallery's BP Portrait of the Year; she has also served as a judge for several years on the RIBA Annual Architecture Award Panels. On 18 September 2003, Somerville was appointed Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Government Art Collection, for a period of four years.[5]

As part of ITN'S 'Famous Five', with Gordon Honeycombe, Martyn Lewis, Selina Scott and Anna Ford, she was brought back to the screen for one week in September 2005 for ITN's 50th Anniversary.[6]

In 2010 Somerville returned to television news as a presenter on BBC News.[7] She also occasionally presents BBC Breakfast. In January 2011 Somerville started as an occasional relief presenter of the BBC Weekend News on BBC One.

Somerville joined Rip Off Britain when it returned in Autumn 2011 for its third series. She replaced Jennie Bond to host alongside Angela Rippon and Gloria Hunniford.[8] Together they also presented Charlie's Consumer Angels.[9]

On 15 June 2013, it was announced that Somerville was to receive an OBE for services to art as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours. Somerville receives this award in recognition for her work chairing the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Somerville has been married three times:

  • Stephen Band (1970–1975)
  • Ray Gowdridge (1984–1992)
  • Sir Jeremy Dixon (Architect)

Somerville has two children with Gowdridge - Joseph (born 1983) and Rachael (born 1988).

Somerville suffered a brain tumour in 1992, for which she successfully underwent neurosurgery. As a result, she agreed to become a patron of the Different Strokes charity.[3]


In August 2001, 47 year old David Hughes of North London was convicted of harassment after sending 390 obscene letters and specifically moving close to Somerville over a 12-year period. Hughes was found guilty of one charge under Section Two of the Harassment Act, and the judge made a hospital order under the Mental Health Act 1983.[11] Deputy District Judge Javaid Azam subsequently issued an indefinite restraining order banning Hughes from ever contacting the journalist again.[12] It was also revealed that in 1995, Somerville took out a court injunction to stop sound engineer Geoffrey Brewis contacting her; she said he had visited her home, followed her and made nuisance phone calls.[11]


  1. ^ Airthrie School
  2. ^ "Notable Alumni". University of Sussex. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Julia Somerville Joins as Patron". Different Strokes. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Julia Somerville". Knight Ayton. Retrieved 8 January 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d "Julia Somerville appointed Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Government Art Collection". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Why the future of ITN might be in its past". Press Gazette. 30 September 2005. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Julia Somerville to present on BBC News channel". BBC News. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 23 December 2009. 
  8. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wck32
  9. ^ Video on YouTube
  10. ^ http://tvnewsroom.co.uk/news/julia-somerville-awarded-obe-in-queens-birthday-honours-58402/
  11. ^ a b "Man guilty of stalking newsreader". BBC News. 23 August 2001. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  12. ^ http://news.sky.com/story/61523/julia-somervilles-stalker-locked-up

External links[edit]