Nan Winton: First woman to read BBC TV news dies

Nan Winton
Image caption Nan Winton became the first woman to read the news on BBC Television in 1960

The first woman to read the news on BBC television has died at the age of 93.

Nancy Wigginton, who was better known as Nan Winton, became the first female TV newsreader at the corporation on 20 June 1960.

Winton was an experienced journalist who had worked on Panorama and Town and Around before she joined the television news reading team.

The retired television and radio broadcaster, who lived in Bridport, Dorset, died in hospital on 11 May.

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Image caption British newsreader Nan Winton (right) interviewing politician Barbara Castle at County Hall Terrace, London, August 1961

Although Winton was to be the first female BBC newsreader, Barbara Mandell had been a regular in TV news for ITN from 1955.

News of the decision, dubbed by the BBC at the time as an “experiment” but made partly in response to the challenge of commercial television, prompted much debate.

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”.

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Image caption BBC announcers Kenneth Kendall, Judith Chalmers, Nan Winton and Michael Aspel, in September 1960

However, Winton’s on-screen role was short lived after viewers deemed a woman reading the late news was “not acceptable”, according to BBC audience research.

By October the same year, Winton had read the late bulletins seven times before the experiment ended.

There would not be a regular female newsreader until Angela Rippon joined the team on the flagship Nine O’Clock News in 1975.

Winton went on to work for ITV before retiring.

An inquest was opened into her death at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court on 16 May.

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