Annie Nightingale

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Annie Nightingale

Anne Avril Nightingale

(1940-04-01) 1 April 1940 (age 80)[1]
Years active1963–present
Parent(s)Basil Nightingale (father), Celia Nightingale (mother)
ShowWednesday overnights
Station(s)BBC Radio 1
Time slotWednesday 00:00 – 02:00
StyleDisc Jockey

Annie Avril Nightingale CBE and MBE (born 1 April 1940) is an English radio and television broadcaster. She was the first female presenter on BBC Radio 1 in 1970, and is its longest-serving presenter.

Early life and career[edit]

She was born in Osterley, Middlesex, the daughter of Celia and Basil Nightingale. After attending St Catherine's School, Twickenham,[2] Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton, Middlesex (by scholarship), and the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster) School of Journalism, Nightingale began her career as a journalist in Brighton, East Sussex.

Nightingale began her career as a journalist, broadcaster, columnist, TV host and fashion boutique owner, embracing the revolutionary years of her youth in the 1960s amid The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, David Bowie, The Byrds, The Beach Boys and other leading pop artists and writers.

In the 1960s and 1970s, she wrote columns for the Daily Express, the Daily Sketch, Petticoat and Cosmopolitan magazine.[3]

She joined BBC Radio 1 in 1970, becoming the first national female DJ on the BBC and has remained a broadcaster there ever since. Nightingale has specialised in championing new and underground music, she has also led the movement and encouraged other women to become DJs and broadcasters. She is BBC Radio 1’s longest serving broadcaster and holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a female radio presenter.[4]

Presenter and writer[edit]

Her first broadcast on the BBC was on 14 September 1963 as a panellist on Juke Box Jury, and she contributed to Woman's Hour in 1964 and hosted programmes on the BBC Light Programme in 1966.

She started at BBC Radio 1 on 8 February 1970 with a Sunday evening show. The show was short-lived and in April she became one of the hosts of the singles review show What's New before graduating to a late-night progressive rock show, Sounds of the 70s, with Alan Black, John Peel, Bob Harris, Pete Drummond, and Mike Harding which was simulcast on the BBC Radio 2's FM frequency.

In the mid-to late 1970s, she presented a Sunday-afternoon request show, and in the early 1980s she presented a Friday night show and the non-music-based Radio 1 Mailbag and Talkabout.

In 1978, Nightingale became the main presenter of The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 as a replacement for long-time host Bob Harris. During her tenure, the show moved away from its traditional bias under Harris towards country music, blues rock and progressive rock and embraced popular modern styles such as punk rock and new wave. She left the series in 1982.

She had begun The Sunday Request Show in September 1975, originally on Sunday afternoons until the end of 1979. It began its second and most famous run in December 1982, for most of its run in a slot immediately after the Top 40. The show was one of the first on British radio to regularly play music from CDs, taking advantage of its FM carriage before BBC Radio 1 had its own higher-quality frequencies. A gimmick was to allow the intro of the first song in the show to play uninterrupted before saying "Hi" in the last second before the vocals started.

In 1994, Nightingale moved to a weekend overnight dance music show initially called The Chill Out Zone. She can still be heard in the early hours of Friday, later Wednesday mornings on BBC Radio 1 BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Asian Network. From the mid 2000s she hosted a breaks show, often featuring major breaks DJs such as Plump DJs, Freestylers, Noisia and Meat Katie. Until embracing the Trap scene and certainly had her hand in popularising the genre. Nightingale regularly DJs live at clubs and festivals around the UK and Europe.

As a DJ, Nightingale has travelled and performed all over the world from Ibiza to Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Barcelona, Warsaw and at major European festivals such as Sziget in Budapest, Roskilde in Denmark as well as at all the major British festivals such as Glastonbury, Bestival, Wickerman, Rockness, Lovebox, Kendal Calling and numerous others. She has also broadcast TV and Radio documentaries during visits to Russia, Romania, Iraq, Chile, Philippines, United States, France, Ibiza, Japan, China, India and Cuba. At the same time she has become a regular contributor to BBC Four news programmes such as The Today Programme, The World At One and The World This Weekend. While in Havana in 1996, she was injured during a mugging, resulting in multiple injuries requiring an air-lift to a London hospital, since which she has worn the distinctive shades, now part of her image.

In 2002, Nightingale was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to radio broadcasting. The award recognised her in-depth coverage of the radio scene. In 2004, she was the first female DJ from Radio 1 to be inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame.

Nightingale has published two autobiographical books: Chase The Fade (1981) ISBN 0-7137-1167-1 and Wicked Speed (1999) ISBN 0-283-06197-9. She has compiled three albums: Annie on One (1996, Heavenly Recordings), in which she included the then unsigned and undiscovered Daft Punk, her own instalment of the Breaks DJ mix series Y4K (2007, Distinctive Records), and 'Masterpiece' on the Ministry of Sound compilation series of that name (July 2015)

On 30 September 2007, the 40th anniversary of BBC Radio 1 was celebrated, Nightingale co-hosted a special return of the Request Show with Annie Mac featuring contributions from musicians such as Paul McCartney and Chemical Ed, excerpts from the original show and Nightingale's recollections of regular contributors such as "Night Owl of Croydon". The show featured many classic tracks which had been requested over the years and closed with one of Nightingale's favourites, Cristina's version of "Is That All There Is?".

A version of The Smiths song "Panic" interpreted by Mancunian cult comedian Frank Sidebottom dedicates its choruses to "Anne the DJ" (in place of the original song's "Hang the DJ") and asks "Anne Nightingale what's your blinking game; I waited for your roadshow, but your roadshow never came".[5] In 2014, she appeared in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern as herself.

On 20 May 2011, she was featured in the BBC Four documentary Annie Nightingale: Bird on the Wireless, documenting her life and passion for music.[6] The film has been shown a total of 3 times on BBC Four and it features tributes from Paul Weller and Tinie Tempah and interviews with Paul McCartney, Mani from The Stone Roses and Primal Scream, DJ Starscream and The Clash’s Mick Jones.

In 2011 Nightingale won the Best Radio Award for the sixth year running at the International Breakbeat Awards, and the BBC A&M award for the mammoth A Night With Annie Nightingale on BBC Radio 1.

Nightingale was made an honorary Doctor of Letters at the University of Westminster in December 2012. She is an ambassador at Prince CharlesThe Prince's Trust and a patron of Sound Women, an organisation to promote women in broadcasting.

In 2011 The BBC launched its new BBC Archive Centre and named one of its vaults after Annie Nightingale, where she is in the company of Michael Palin and Sir David Frost.

In 2013, Nightingale was featured in the BBC Radio 4 programme Getting on Air: the Female Pioneers, presented by Jane Garvey.[7]

In 2015, it was revealed that Nightingale had been approached by the BBC to sign a letter warning Prime Minister David Cameron that his plans to reform the corporation would damage it. Nightingale, one of the letter's 29 signatories, revealed later on that she had not read the letter prior to signing it.[8]

In 2015, she was commissioned by Paul McCartney to write the accompanying fully illustrated book as part of the deluxe re-release of his classic albums Tug Of War and Pipes Of Peace. In the same year she appeared at ITV's gala spectacular The Nation's Favourite: The Beatles No One.

In July 2020, Annie appeared as a guest on the long-running BBC Radio 4 show "Desert Island Discs," choosing a saxophone as her luxury item and "Space Oddity" as the one track she would save in the event of a tropical storm.

Already Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Nightingale was also appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to radio broadcasting.[9] She is the only BBC Radio 1 broadcaster ever to receive this honour.

50th Anniversary at Radio 1 & Radio 2[edit]

In 2020 Annie Nightingale celebrated her 50th anniversary in broadcasting with a series of BBC specials, and a compilation album on Ministry Of Sound. This features tracks by the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney who have never before granted permission for their music to appear on compilations.

Annie's 50th anniversary at Radio 1 was marked by two documentaries on BBC TV and the release of her new memoir on 3 September 2020, published by White Rabbit Books, an imprint of Weidenfeld & Nicolson. The book looks at pop culture and social history over five decades, covering never before seen interviews with artists ranging from the Beatles to Billie Eilish, and includes Bob Marley, Marc Bolan, Primal Scream, the Streets, Dusty Springfield, Keith Moon, Elvis Costello, Little Simz and more. The memoir covers Annie's 50 years at BBC Radio 1, having been the first female DJ, she is now also the longest serving broadcaster on the station of any gender. The book also contains recollections of Paris in the 1950s, early raves in London, the Falklands War of the 1980s and the LA Riots of 1992.

Radio 2[edit]

In April 2012, Nightingale presented a show on BBC Radio 2 called Annie Nightingale's Eternal Jukebox. She has continued presenting this on an occasional basis, usually on bank holidays. The Eternal Jukebox showcases "enjoyably unexpected musical pairings." Listeners are invited to suggest a song and Annie pairs it up with another song often of a different genre and suggests a link between the two songs. On 25 June 2012, she also presented a documentary for BBC Radio 2 called Is It Worth It?, about the Falklands Conflict. It was described on the Radio 2 website as "30 years on from the Falklands conflict, Annie Nightingale considers the impact of the war through the song Shipbuilding."[10]

Nightingale returned to BBC Radio 2 on 1 January 2014 for another one-off show entitled Annie Nightingale: Whatever Next?, broadcast between 8pm and 10pm. The show featured a variety of genres from the seven decades from the 1950s onwards.


  1. ^ Ms Annie Avril Nightingale Company Check Limited. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  2. ^ People of Today 2017, ed. Lucy Hume, Debrett's Ltd, 2017.
  3. ^ Sheila Tracy (1983). Who’s who on radio. Worlds Work Ltd. ISBN 0-437-17600-2.
  4. ^ "Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale is a World Record holder". 21 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Radio Timperley". pp. podcast time 5:10. Archived from the original on 24 April 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  6. ^ "Anne Nightingale - Biography - IMDB". IMDB. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Radio DJ Annie Nightingale talks about being Radio 1s first female DJ and why she's still keen to party on". Radio Times. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  8. ^ Harley, Nicola (15 July 2015). "BBC secretly organised celebrities' warning letter to David Cameron". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  9. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N9.
  10. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Is It Worth It?". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2015.

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