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Jenni Murray

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Jenni Murray
Murray in 2011
Murray in 2011
Jennifer Susan Bailey

12 May 1950 (1950-05-12) (age 74)
Occupation(s)Journalist and broadcaster
Spouse(s)Brian Murray (div.)
David Forgham

Dame Jennifer Susan Murray, DBE (née Bailey; born 12 May 1950[1]) is an English journalist and broadcaster, best known for presenting BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour from 1987 to 2020.

Early life[edit]

Murray was born in Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire to Alvin Bailey and Winifred Jones, and attended Barnsley Girls' High School, a grammar school, leaving with A levels in French, English and History.[citation needed] She has a degree in French and Drama from the University of Hull.[2][3]


Murray joined BBC Radio Bristol in 1973 before becoming a reporter and presenter for regional TV news programme South Today. She was a newsreader and later one of the presenters of the BBC's Newsnight television show for two years from 1983, before moving to BBC Radio 4 to present Today. She took over from Sue MacGregor as presenter of Woman's Hour in 1987. She has presented BBC Radio 4's The Message and written for magazines and newspapers including The Guardian, Daily Express and the Daily Mail.[2][3] She hosted her final Woman's Hour on 1 October 2020.[4]

She has written several books, including:

  • 1996 – Woman's Hour, 50 years of British Women
  • 2003 – That's My Boy
  • 2003 – Is It Me, or Is It Hot in Here?: A Modern Woman's Guide to the Menopause
  • 2009 – Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful 'Daughter'
  • 2011 - Ten Poems About Dogs
  • 2011 – My Boy Butch: The heart-warming true story of a little dog who made life worth living again
  • 2016 - A History of Britain in 21 Women
  • 2017 – Woman's Hour: Words from Wise, Witty and Wonderful Women[2]
  • 2018 – A History of the World in 21 Women: A Personal Selection
  • 2018 - Votes For Women!: The Pioneers and Heroines of Female Suffrage
  • 2020 – Fat Cow, Fat Chance: The Science and Psychology of Size

Personal life and views[edit]

She was brought up a Christian in the Church of England. At the age of 14, however, just before visiting Auschwitz concentration camp, her father revealed he was Jewish by birth from his mother Edith Field (originally Feld).[5] Murray subsequently wrote on 21st December 2022 in The Daily Mail and on Twitter[6] "Officially I have no claim to the Jewish faith, but I feel it deeply, and have done since the age of 14 when my father revealed to me what, until then, he had kept a closely guarded secret. I am not religious, but I feel my Jewish genes. They are part of my race. They took me to Israel in my early 20s, against the advice of my parents who were afraid for me, but I wanted to know more." She spent a year working at the Frank Meisler sculpture gallery in Jaffa. She has also written of her abhorrence of racism ".. young people need to understand the history of slavery and how it influences modern racism, they need to understand what lay behind the Holocaust and how it continues to affect the Jewish population."

Murray married her first husband Brian Murray aged 21; their marriage ended after six years.[7] She later married David Forgham and the couple have two grown-up sons.[8][7]

Murray has been criticised for her statements on transgender people. Writing for The Sunday Times in March 2017, Murray penned an article headlined "Jenni Murray: Be trans, be proud – but don't call yourself a 'real woman'."[9][10] In November 2018, Murray cancelled a scheduled Oxford University History Society presentation following a backlash regarding her comments in The Sunday Times.[11] The following month, the University of Hull announced it was revisiting plans to name a lecture theatre after Murray amid protests; the university's Student President team released a statement reading, "We oppose the naming of a lecture theatre after Jenni Murray. We do not believe that someone who holds these views should be presented as a role model to students".[12] In a 2020 article for The Daily Mail, Murray claimed that the BBC had banned her from chairing "any discussions on the trans question or the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act" following her departure from Woman's Hour.[13] In November 2023, Murry signed an open letter from Sex Matters urging UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to "to take urgent action to halt an escalating campaign of violence and intimidation against women in the name of 'trans rights' ".[14]

Health issues[edit]

In December 2006 Murray announced, at the end of Woman's Hour, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.[15] She informed her audience that her prognosis was good; she did indeed return early in 2007. She reported that the most emotionally upsetting moment was losing her hair, and used this as an item on the centrality of hair to definitions of femininity.[16] In 2020 Murray announced that she would demonstrate proper self-breast examination techniques on The Real Full Monty on Ice television program, alongside Linda Lusardi and Hayley Tamaddon.[17]

Murray has been vocal and visible in the media with regard to her own experience of menopause, HRT and the importance of raising awareness of this aspect of women's health in the workplace and more generally [18][19][20]

In 2008 she had a hip replacement following avascular necrosis.[citation needed]

Murray had a sleeve gastrectomy in June 2015, and had lost over 4 stone (56 lb; 25 kg) by October that year.[21]


Murray was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to broadcasting in 1999 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.[22][23]

In 2007 Murray was awarded a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) honorary degree from the University of St Andrews in recognition of Jenni Murray's major contribution to broadcasting, journalism and writing.[24]

In March 2012 Murray was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Salford for contributions to the media industry and to the growing links between the University and its neighbours at Salford Quays.[25]

On 5 November 2019 Murray was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the University of Chester, for outstanding contribution to journalism and broadcasting.[26]


In November 2007 it was announced Murray had been named patron of British medical research charity Breast Cancer Campaign.[27] She is also patron of the Family Planning Association, vice-president of Parkinson's UK and a supporter of Humanists UK.[28]


  1. ^ "Birthdays today". The Telegraph. 12 May 2011. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2014. Ms Jenni Murray, broadcaster, 61
  2. ^ a b c "Jenni Murray". BBC. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Jenni Murray". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Woman's House: Dame Jenni Murray signs off with feminist anthem". BBC News. 1 October 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  5. ^ "In-depth interview with Jenni Murray".
  6. ^ @whjm (21 December 2022). "Why am I so wary to talk about my Jewish heritage?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ a b "The Observer profile: Jenni Murray". The Guardian. 24 December 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  8. ^ Murray, Jenni (15 July 2008). "Jenni Murray: 'I've joined the hip-op generation'" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  9. ^ "Radio 4 host cancels talk amid trans row". BBC News. 8 November 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  10. ^ Kennedy, Maev (5 March 2017). "Jenni Murray: trans women shouldn't call themselves 'real women'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Jenni Murray pulls out of Oxford talk amid trans row". 8 November 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Jenni Murray: University of Hull to review theatre name change amid trans row". 4 December 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  13. ^ "Jenni Murray blasts BBC for silencing her on trans issue". www.christian.org.uk. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  14. ^ "Prime Minister, will you stand up to violence against women?". Sex Matters. 1 September 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  15. ^ "Radio 4's Jenni Murray has cancer". BBC News. 21 December 2006.
  16. ^ "Woman's Hour, 27 February 2007". BBC. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  17. ^ "Dame Jenni Murray on why she's taking her clothes off on TV". BBC News. 2 December 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  18. ^ Murray, Jenni (2003). Is it me, or is it hot in here? : a modern woman's guide to the menopause. London: Vermilion. ISBN 0-09-188777-1. OCLC 51741029.
  19. ^ Murray, Jenni (1 June 2017). "Jenni Murray: 'If I knew what I know now about HRT I would never have taken it'". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  20. ^ "HRT won't kill you - but menopausal women still face a difficult decision". The Guardian. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  21. ^ "Jenni Murray: 'I had 75% of my stomach removed". BBC News. 21 October 2015.
  22. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 7.
  23. ^ "Main list of the 2011 Queen's birthday honours recipients" (PDF). BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  24. ^ "Honorary graduates". www.st-andrews.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 7 July 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  25. ^ "University of Salford". University of Salford. Archived from the original on 1 May 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  26. ^ "University of Chester". University of Chester. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Article from". radiotoday.co.uk. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  28. ^ "Dame Jenni Murray". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 5 September 2014.