TV

BBC Strictly Come Dancing's Angela Rippon: 'I would have loved them to have asked me years ago'

In a new interview, Angela Rippon talks about Strictly Come Dancing and kicking down preconceptions about what older people can do

Angela Rippon in a silver sparkly dress and white fur with arms outstretched

Image: BBC/Guy Levy

Angela Rippon has been wowing the nation on Strictly Come Dancing in recent times – but in a new interview she has revealed she wishes she was asked on to the show years earlier.

At 79, the legendary broadcaster has begun the competition in fine style alongside her professional dance partner Kai Widdrington, with her Foxtrot, Rumba, Argentine Tango and Charleston all winning more than 30 points from the Strictly judges.

“If someone says, would you like to read the news, or present a quiz show, or do a consumer programme, or dance on Strictly Come Dancing, I always say yes please,” she said, in an upcoming interview by Jane Graham for The Big Issue’s Letter To My Younger Self.

“And most of the time, I’ve made the right decisions, and those challenges have been confirmed. Of course, Strictly is a huge challenge. I would have loved them to have asked me years ago. But finally being asked now is fantastic.”

Angela found fame as a news journalist and newsreader. But growing up in the West country, fame and acclaim felt very far away.

“Even at the age of 16, I knew I wanted to be a journalist,” she said.

“I assumed I was going to be working for newspapers. It never would have occurred to me, back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, that I might work in television. Television was something that happened in London.

“It was not something that came from the West Country. So, to think I’ve had a lifetime in television… and not just that, but all the people that I’ve met, the opportunities I’ve had, the countries I’ve visited. I think the young me would have been full of wonder at what my future held for me.

“And I think my younger self would have been surprised to think she would be someone recognisable. But I never take that for granted. I always take it as a huge compliment when people recognise me.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Angela Rippon talks about her childhood, dropping out of school during her A levels to apply for a photojournalist position at a local newspaper, taking inspiration from her parents, and her legendary appearance on Morecambe and Wise at Christmas in 1976.

Now, she said, she wants to continue to challenge ideas around what older people are capable of.

“I’ll do the best I can while I’m doing Strictly,” she said. “And I can demonstrate that actually, people of a certain age can still exercise. Dance is the perfect way, mentally and physically, to keep you fit.”

Strictly Come Dancing airs every Saturday night on BBC One

Read Angela Rippon’s full Letter to My Younger Self in The Big Issue, on sale from 13 November.

Melanie Goldberg is a member of Big Issue’s Breakthrough programme

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