The legendary Angela Rippon CBE will be speaking today at The British Tourism & Travel Show about her venturesome 50 year career. In this exclusive speaker Q&A, Angela talks about her most memorable work moment and the best advice she’s ever been given.
What has been your most memorable career moment?
When I was working for ITN, they asked me during the First Gulf War if I would present part of their round-the-clock coverage of the war in Iraq. And I was on air when it became clear that Saddam Hussein had fallen. It’s that wonderful moment when you’re at the sharp end of a news story as it happens.
And it’s an opportunity to use all of your skills as a broadcast journalist without having a script, or any background – just using the knowledge that you have and the skills that you have as a communicator.
Everyone always refers to Morecambe and Wise, which was glorious – everyone always asks me about that. Being able to perform with two of the greatest comedians we’ve ever produced in this country, and getting a record-breaking 23m people watching – that was another career highlight.
BTTS takes place during English Tourism Week. What’s your fondest memory of a holiday in England?
I think my happiest memories were discovering all the beautiful beaches of Devon and Cornwall, and particularly enjoying places like Rock before it became ‘Kensington on Sea’, before anyone else had discovered it – a wonderful place to go. Wonderful memories of spending golden summer weekends on the beach at Thurlestone, swimming and just being with friends.
And what about further afield?
I’ve travelled so much, and in terms of the places I’ve loved and wanted to go back to from a work point of view – the nation of Bhutan in the Himalayas was just one of the most glorious experiences of being able to travel in a country that I knew very little about. The people are wonderful, their culture is fascinating, their countryside is quite stunningly beautiful.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
When the BBC invited me to join them, there was no training scheme to go and work on television – you just had to be a communicator, and I remember sitting in the studio doing my very first broadcast live. And when I got home I said to my dad: “How did I do Daddy?” and he said: “Oh it was fine, except you did look like a rabbit caught in the headlights.”
And I said, well I’m used to writing, it’s rather different sitting in front of goodness knows how many thousands of people and doing something live. And my dad said: “Well when you go in tomorrow, and when you look down the camera, talk to me – don’t worry about anything else, just tell me what the story is.” And that was the piece of advice that I now give to my broadcast students.
I’ve done television programmes in which I have been speaking to millions of people, but you’re basically talking to one person at a time. And that’s what gives you the ability, I hope, to make what you’re doing as a broadcast journalist in television much more personal to your audience. I’ve spent 51 years talking to my dad, basically.