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Anna Ford
Born 2 October 1943 (1943-10-02) (age 66)
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
Occupation Journalist, Television presenter, Newsreader
Children 2

Anna Ford (born 2 October 1943 in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire) is a retired English journalist and television presenter, best known as a newsreader.

During her career, she initially worked as a researcher, news reporter and later news reader for Granada Television, the BBC, became the first female newsreader on ITN, and helped launch the first British Breakfast television programme TV-am. She retired from broadcast news presenting in April 2006, and is now a non-executive director for Sainsbury's.

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Early life

Ford's parents were both West End actors, with her father having declined an offer from Samuel Goldwyn to work in Hollywood. He was later ordained as an Anglican priest, becoming the Rev. John Ford, and took Anna and her four brothers to live at Eskdale in the Lake District. She went to primary school at St. Ursula's School, Wigton, then to Wigton Grammar School. Her father became the parish priest at St Martin's church in Brampton, so she went to the White House Grammar School, becoming head girl.

Ford received a BA Hons degree in Social Anthropology from the Victoria University of Manchester and was president of the students' union in 1966, and was apparently nicknamed "Red Anna" at this time. She also received a Postgraduate Diploma in adult education whilst at Manchester. She is a supporter of Burnley Football Club.

Career

After a spell as teacher for four years, including teaching IRA provisionals at the H-Blocks at Long Kesh for two years, and from 1970-2, she was a lecturer in Christie's Fine Art department in Ballyclare, then an Open University social studies tutor in Belfast for two years from 1972, credited under her married name (at the time) of Bittles. Anna Ford was thirty by the time she joined Granada Television as a researcher in 1974, being told she was too old to be a newsreader.[1] She joined the BBC in 1976, and worked on Tomorrow's World in 1977.

In 1978 she moved to ITN, becoming their second female newscaster. Fellow newscaster Reginald Bosanquet was inspired to write poetry for her: I prayed, I vowed, that I'd be good; and many people thought I would; but then I got my just reward; 18 nights with Anna Ford.[1]

Ford left ITN to launch TV-am in 1981, with its original high-brow "mission to explain". But with fierce competition from the BBC's casually styled Breakfast Time, TV-am was re-launched in a perceived "dumbing-down" of the station, and only 3 months after the station's launch, Ford was dismissed from the presenting team. Ford was involved in a notable party incident, in which she threw her wine over Jonathan Aitken to express her outrage over his involvement in her sacking from the channel.

She rejoined the BBC in 1986, becoming part of the presentation team for both BBC One's Six O'Clock News and the BBC Radio 4 Today programme in 1989. From 1999 she fronted the re-launched lunchtime One O'Clock News. In February 2003, Ford experienced one of her more challenging broadcasts when she lost her voice live on-air. She had to resort to drinking water on air, and the decision in the end had to be taken to replace Ford with the available Sophie Raworth.[2]

On 30 October 2005, Ford announced her plans to retire from broadcasting in April 2006 in order to pursue other interests while she still has the interest and energy.[3] She also talked tough on ageism, stating:[4]

I might have been shovelled off into News 24 to the sort of graveyard shift, and I wouldn't have wanted to do that because it wouldn't have interested me. I think when you reflect on the people who they're (the BBC) bringing in and they're all much younger. I think they are being brought in because they are younger. I think that's specifically one of the reasons why they're being employed."

On 27 April 2006, she said farewell to the viewers and signed off by introducing a compilation of clips of her career. On 2 May 2006, J Sainsbury plc, the UK supermarket group, announced Ford was joining the company as a non-executive director.[5]. She is the Chair of Sainbury's board's Corporate Responsibility Committee [6]

Away from the newsdesk

Ford's good looks created an early dual image as both feminist icon and male fantasy figure in a previously all-male world, with Sir Robin Day once commenting that: all men wanted to sleep with Anna Ford - even though Ford's feisty personality and pleasure in speaking her mind had meant Ford had previously pushed him into a bush. Her love of academic study, and the writing of a book Men - a documentary in 1985 gave her a rather prim and aloof public reputation, at odds with her actual character.

Entertainment

Ford, as a student, toured Manchester's nightclub sets with a guitar for £5 a night, and always wished she could still be a nightclub singer, saying: You only have one life and it isn't a rehearsal. You may as well have fun.

She turned down the chance of a part in the film Chariots of Fire but appeared in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins. She also appeared on the BBC's Stars Sing the Beatles, with her version of "Here, There and Everywhere". In December 2005 she was a guest presenter of Have I Got News For You - even though team captain Ian Hislop's publication, Private Eye, had mockingly appraised her as a 'talented autocue reader' on her retirement.

She has stated that her biggest regret is having turned down repeated invitations to appear on the Morecambe and Wise Show. Having been asked to appear in a song and dance routine on the 1978 Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show, instead, the comedians performed the routine with a look-a-like, whose face was never seen on camera.

Academia

On 17 December 2001 she was installed as Chancellor of the Victoria University of Manchester. When the Victoria University of Manchester merged with UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) on 1 October 2004 to create the new University of Manchester, she became Co-Chancellor along with Sir Terry Leahy (the former Chancellor of UMIST). On 22 April 2006, Anna Ford received an honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews, nominated by Sir Menzies Campbell. Her work was praised by the Dean of Arts, in both her broadcasting and academic career

Personal life

Ford had an early marriage to Dr Alan Bittles, although this dissolved before her television career, and in the late 1970s she was briefly engaged to TV news anchorman, Jon Snow.[7] She then married the magazine editor and cartoonist Mark Boxer, with whom she had two daughters Claire and Kate, before he died of a brain tumour in 1988 at their home in Brentford, Greater London.

She was then briefly engaged in 2000 to former astronaut David Scott, with whom she was photographed. Ford briefly became the subject of, rather than the reader of, news stories in August 2001, when she lost a high profile court case. She claimed unsuccessfully that photographs of her in a bikini with David Scott, by a press photographer in Majorca, with a powerful zoom lens and published in the British media constituted an invasion of her privacy.[1]

References

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