Born 1960 in Wolverhampton, England. Riddoch spent her childhood in Belfast then moved to Glasgow in 1976 where she attended a local fee-paying private school. In 1978 she attended the University of Oxford and graduated with an honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She was also elected president of the student union in 1981, although she was neither the university's first female president nor its first non-Conservative president as she has claimed. After graduating she studied for a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.
She founded and directed a feminist magazine known as Harpies and Quines which during its lifetime was sued by the publication Harpers & Queen. The magazine was later declared bankrupt for unrelated reasons.
During the years 1993 to 1999 she was the contributing editor of the Sunday Herald and assistant editor of The Scotsman. She was editor of a special one-off edition of The Scotsman known as The Scotswoman produced by the paper's female staff.
Writing columns for The Sunday Post, The Scotsman, and occasionally The Guardian, in 2006 she was shortlisted for the Orwell prize, an award given to those judged to be making political writing into an art form.
From 1989 to 1994 she presented the BBC Radio Scotland programme Speaking Out and was one of the presenters of Radio Four programme You and Yours. In 1993 Riddoch won a Cosmopolitan woman award for Communication and in 1994 for the best talk show award. Her programme Speaking Out took the Silver Quill Law Society award that same year.
Between 1999 and 2005 she had her own daily radio programme the Lesley Riddoch Programme on Radio Scotland.
She runs her own independent radio, podcast and TV production company known as Feisty Ltd. In 2004 she chaired the Celtic Film and Television Festival, a small festival rewarding non-English language productions. In 2008, she produced and presented an independent documentary about the history and development of the Dundee waterfront called "The Great Tay Bridge Mystery - Who Dunnit ?".
Riddoch was involved in the buyout of the Isle of Eigg by the local community. She assisted in putting together the buyout plan and later became a trustee of the Isle of Eigg Trust. The trust bought the island in 1997.
In 2008, Riddoch served as a member of the Scottish Prisons Commission. In 2009, she acted as Chair in Task Force, set up by the Scottish Government, to transfer the island of Rùm into community ownership from Scottish Natural Heritage.
Riddoch has also co-authored a joke book with Ian Black[disambiguation needed] on men and women. In 2007, she published her account of a cycle journey up the Outer Hebrides, Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides. This book had been based on a BBC Radio Scotland series On the Bike; in which over 13 weeks Riddoch cycled from Barra to the Butt of Lewis meeting the characters, enjoying the craic and observing the customs of the Hebridean islands.
She has also worked with African women journalists to help them create a monthly webpaper called Africawoman - three editions of their own paper were distributed on trains and buses in Scotland prior to the Gleneagles summit 2005. She later received an Honorary Doctorate for the work from Glasgow Caledonian University.
In early 2010, Riddoch co-founded the think tank, Nordic Horizons - which has brought Nordic experts and specialists to Scotland to share social policy insights and experiences.
- Oxford University Gazette, January 1971, page 14
- Cold Type, 2002, Issue 6, page 7
- Leslie Riddoch personal web page, at 28 January 2005
- Scotland's Choice: Report of the Scottish Prisons Commission. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. 1 July 2008. ISBN 978-0-7559-5772-9. Retrieved 5 January 2011.