Sheila Tracy

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Sheila Tracy (née Lugg; 10 January 1934 – 30 September 2014) was a British broadcaster, writer, musician, and singer. She began her career as a trombone player during the 1950s in all-female bands.


Sheila Lugg was born in Mullion, Cornwall in 1934.[1] She attended Truro Girls School[2] and studied piano, violin and trombone at the Royal Academy of Music, then was a member of the Ivy Benson All Girls Band between 1956 and 1958. Subsequently, she formed a vocal/trombone duo, The Tracy Sisters, who appeared in variety, on radio and television, as well as in cabaret all over the world. When the act broke up, she joined BBC Television as an announcer[3] and worked mostly in television until 1974 when she became the first female newsreader on BBC Radio 4 on 16 July.[4] She also qualified as a Special Policewoman in London.[1]

On BBC Radio 2 Tracy devised and presented the Truckers' Hour, based on a format she had learnt about on a visit to the USA.[2] She introduced Big Band Special featuring performances by the BBC Big Band. She would sometimes join the trombone section of the band in non-broadcast concerts. She was also a regular contributor to Radio 4's Breakaway. While on Saga Radio, Tracy presented a big band show called Swing Time with Sheila Tracy, a programme which was syndicated across the Saga network.[citation needed]

Two of the books she wrote are Bands, Booze & Broads (1995), a collection of her interviews with the American sidemen who played with the top bands in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s; and Talking Swing (1997),[5] on British musicians of the same era. She was a popular lecturer on P&O cruises.[1] She wrote two other reference works.[2]

In 1997, she was made a Freeman of the City of London and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. She is a former President of The British Trombone Society.[6] She was married to actor John Arnatt from 1962 until his death in 1999. The couple had one child, born in 1965.


Sheila Tracy died at the age of 80, on 30 September 2014, at the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Surrey. She is survived by her son.[7]



  1. ^ a b c "Sheila Tracy - obituary". 2 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Williamson, Marcus (4 October 2014). "Sheila Tracy: Trombonist who became Britain's first woman newsreader before presenting 'Truckers Hour' and 'Big Band Special'". The Independent. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Way We Were: former presenters". BBC. January 2006. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Woman's Hour Society Archive: Woman News Readers". BBC. 12 July 2004. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Woman's Hour: Women and Big Bands". BBC. 22 June 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "Sheila Tracy passes away". British Trombone Society. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Sheila Tracy: Former radio and TV host dies", BBC News, 1 October 2014

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