Nan Winton, the first woman to read news on the BBC television has passed away. She was 93 years old at the time of her death. Her real name was Nancy Wigginton. She was the first female TV news reader at this corporation during the period, and started reading news on 20 June in 1960.

Nan Winton was an experienced journalist even for those times; she had worked with Panorama and Town Around before joining BBC which gave her the much needed experience. This retired radio and television broadcaster passed away on the 11 May.

The TV bosses at that time were of the belief that Winton’s voice was powerful enough to read news.

Interestingly, even before Winton started reading news, Barbara Mandell had been reading news for ITN from the year 1955. But, Winton was the first female news reader in the BBC corporation. During the time when she was hired for reading news, BBC News called this an ‘experiment.’ This was also partly in response to the challenge which was given out by the commercial television. This had prompted much debate at the time.

The TV bosses at that time were of the belief that Winton’s voice was powerful enough to read news. They felt that she would be able to overcome the “prejudiced voices in media which said that women were too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news.”

However, despite her bosses believing in her, her on screen role did not stay for a long time. In an audience research, they found out that a women reading late news was simply unacceptable.

When she spoke in a BBC documentary, she said, “I didn’t realise at the time what a revolutionary thing it was. I did realise everybody was getting very excited about it. I didn’t have any trouble from the press or the public. It was the editorial staffs who were a bit dodgy.”

Taking about the editorial staff in Fleet Street she described them as ‘men in their middle years.’ She added that the bosses were a ‘bit ambivalent’ with respect to her.

In September of 1960, she was able to read late bulletin seven times before she was taken down from the Nine O’Clock News.

In September of 1960, she was able to read late bulletin seven times before she was taken down from the Nine O’Clock News. Michael Peacock had called her to his office and then sacked her.

In response to this, she said, “He didn’t say why… and I was furious.”

In the year 1975, there was again a female reader who joined BBC by the name of Angela Rippon. Until Angela Rippon  joined, there were no other female readers. Before retiring, Winton went on to work with ITV for some time.

Fran Unsworth, the current editor of BBC News and Current Affairs had also paid tribute to Nan Winton.

“At a time when we have a host of brilliant women who present, edit, film and report the BBC news, we should look back and pay tribute to trailblazers such as Nan, the first female newsreader on the BBC,” she said.

An inquest to her death was opened on the 16 May. Nan Winton will be remembered as one of the first women to overcome stereotype in this field. Her courage and life will never be forgotten, and she will remain an inspiration to everyone.

Pic Credit: The Guardian

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Kavya Shah is an intern at SheThePeople.Tv

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