Born in Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula 5 August 1971, Nugent was educated at Upton Hall School FCJ. She then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication arts and French from the University of Huddersfield.
Her first media role was at BBC Radio Merseyside before moving on to report on and read the sports news on BBC North West Tonight. In 2003 she became a sports reporter for BBC News, appearing on national bulletins, before becoming a sports news presenter on the BBC News Channel (known at the time as BBC News 24). There she travelled to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, anchoring Sportsday from there. Nugent then spent a period as a news correspondent on TV and radio, and as a relief presenter on the BBC News channel.
Sally is married with one child and after maternity leave, Nugent returned to the BBC News channel as a sports presenter on Thursday, 8 January 2009. In this role she also regularly appeared as a sports presenter on the BBC Weekend News on BBC One.
In November 2011, Nugent began co-presenting BBC Breakfast on a 'relief' basis, filling in when regular hosts were unavailable. Since April 2012, she has presented sports bulletins alongside Mike Bushell on Breakfast, when the programme moved to its new home at Media City in Salford. She is the main relief presenter on the show and presented the show on Christmas Eve 2012 with Bill Turnbull.
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