Nan Winton

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Nan Winton
Nancy Wigginton

(1925-11-06)6 November 1925
Died11 May 2019(2019-05-11) (aged 93)
Dorchester, Dorset, England
OccupationBroadcaster and TV newsreader
Charles Stapley
(m. 1948; div. 1962)

Nancy Wigginton (6 November 1925[1] – 11 May 2019), known professionally as Nan Winton, was a British broadcaster, best known for being the first female newsreader to read the national news on BBC television.[2][3]


Winton (born Nancy Wigginton) was the youngest of the four children of Frank and Evelyn (née Nurse), who were respectively a surveyor and a homemaker. She left school at 15, to run the household; her mother having died. Before the end of the war, she joined the Women's Land Army, becoming a drill sergeant.[4]

In the years after the Second World War, Winton toured Italy with a theatre company to entertain the troops and gained a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[4] The BBC spotted her at the Ideal Home Exhibition where she was working in a live presenting role to supplement her acting.[4] From the mid-19560s, she co-presented Information Desk, a programme to which viewers send questions, and Mainly for Women, a daytime television magazine show.[4]

Winton was a BBC TV continuity announcer from 1958 to 1961 and also an experienced journalist, who had worked on Panorama and Town and Around.[5] She was given the job of reading the 6pm news and weekend bulletins on Sunday evenings, in response to rivals ITN, who had a female newscaster, Barbara Mandell, from its launch in 1955.[1] Winton worked alongside contemporaries, including Kenneth Kendall and Michael Aspel, on the national news.[6] She was not the first woman to read the news on the BBC Television service: Armine Sandford broadcast on the BBC's West Region in Bristol from 1957.[2][3]

Winton began on 20 June 1960, and her role was intended as an experiment. BBC executives believed that Winton was serious enough to counteract the prejudice that women were "too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news".[6] Stuart Hood, a BBC manager at the time whose idea it was to appoint Winton, once confirmed that this was much the opinion of his colleagues at time as well.[7] Winton herself recalled that she had problems with BBC editorial staff rather than the public.[8] However, audience research concluded that viewers thought a woman reading the late news was "not acceptable".[9] The press at the time were dismissive of Winton reading the news.[10] She was removed from the role in March 1961.[11] Michael Peacock was the BBC executive who sacked her. "He didn't say why", Winton recalled in 1997 "and I was furious."[2] Winton told an interviewer for the Daily Mail in 1964: "I believe there is certainly discrimination against women in this country. There were times when I was doing the announcing when I wanted to shout aloud like Shylock 'hath not woman eyes, ears, senses? In Italy and Spain they have women newsreaders who are beautiful and sexy too. We're afraid of that here."[2][3]

Winton remained the only woman to have read the national news on BBC television until 1975, when Angela Rippon became the first female BBC newsreader to be appointed permanently.[12]

After stepping down from reading the news, Winton moved to ITV in 1961, and remained a TV and radio news reporter and interviewer.[6][9] She was also a regular panellist on the radio panel game Treble Chance.[13]

Personal life[edit]

In 1948 Winton married the actor Charles Stapley,[14] who later appeared as Ted Hope in Crossroads.[15] Their daughter and son were born in 1951[16] and 1953.[15] Winton and Stapley divorced in 1962.[17]

She died on 11 May 2019, aged 93, three days after a fall at her house in Bridport, Dorset.[18] The cause of her death was given as congestive heart failure, hypertension, and frailty of old age.[9]


  1. ^ a b Steven, Alasdair (24 May 2019). "Obituary: Nan Winton, the first woman to read the news on BBC Television". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "Nan Winton obituary". The Times. London. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2019. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c Kearney, Martha (3 February 2005). "Women in news or 'news tarts'?". Newsnight25. London: BBC Online. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Brown, Maggie (27 May 2019). "Nan Winton obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  5. ^ Humphrys, Julian (June 2010). BBC History magazine. ISSN 1469-8552.
  6. ^ a b c "Nan Winton: First woman to read BBC TV news dies". BBC News. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019. Television bosses at the time believed Winton was serious enough to overcome prejudiced voices in the media that said women were 'too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news.'
  7. ^ Chambers, Deborah; Steiner, Linda; Fleming, Carole (2004). Women and Journalism. London & New York City: Routledge. p. 54.
  8. ^ Thumim, Janet (1998). "'Mrs Knight Must Be Balanced: Methodological Problems in Researching Early British Television". In Carter, Cynthia; Branston, Gill; Allan, Stuart (eds.). News, Gender and Power. London & New York City: Routledge. p. 97.
  9. ^ a b c Shepherd, Jack (21 May 2019). "Nan Winton death: BBC's first female newsreader dies aged 93". The Independent. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  10. ^ Bruce, Fiona (2 July 2004). "Women on the news". BBC News. London. Retrieved 10 February 2013. In the Weekly Post an article entitled 'Girls just can't read the news' stated, 'The plain fact is that the news is one of those rare TV items which requires one simple no-nonsense characteristic from its vendor - authority. And how many women do you know who can even begin to appear and sound authoritative while remaining attractively feminine?'
  11. ^ Biodata Archived 4 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Karasz, Palko (21 May 2019). "Nancy Wigginton, First Woman to Read National News on BBC, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  13. ^ Walker, Amy (21 May 2019). "Nan Winton, BBC's first female TV newsreader, dies aged 93". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  15. ^ a b Hayward, Anthony (3 April 2011). "Charles Stapley obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  16. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Radio And Tv Interviewer Nan Winton Wife Of Charles Stapley Was Granted A Decree Nisi In The Divorce Court". Shutterstock. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  18. ^ Winter, Alex (20 May 2019). "First woman newsreader on BBC Nan Winton dies after fall at Bridport home". Dorset Echo.

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