Annie Nightingale – Pioneering BBC Radio 1 DJ dies aged 83

BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale, the station’s first presenter, who later became its longest-serving presenter, has died aged 83.

Nightingale joined the station in 1970 and remained the only woman in programming for 12 years.

She was known for her passion for a wide range of music, championing everything from progressive rock and punk to acid house and grime.

She remained on air until late last year with Annie Nightingale Presents.

Nightingale was also known for co-presenting the BBC Two music show The Old Gray Whistle Test.

The tributes have been pouring in, with DJ Annie Mac saying Nightingale was “a trailblazer, energetic, adventurous, fearless, hilarious, intelligent and very good at her job.”


Writing on Instagram, she added: “This is the woman who changed the face and sound of British radio and television forever. She cannot be underestimated.”

BBC Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball said she was “heartbroken” by the news, adding: “He loved music like no other, he sought out the tunes and artists that shaped our lives, interviewed them all, opening doors to musicians, DJs and broadcasters alike.”

Fellow Radio 2 presenter Jo Whiley said Nightingale was “the coolest woman to ever grace the airwaves”.

She added: “She blazed a trail for all of us and never compromised. Her passion for music never waned.”

Lauren Laverne, 6 Music DJ and host of Desert Island Discs, thanked Nightingale “for opening the door and showing us all what to do when we get over it,” adding: “We’ll miss you so much.”

News of Nightingale’s death was announced on BBC Radio 1, with presenter Mollie King saying that she “had really championed female talent”.

“I think I can say I speak for myself and other women in broadcasting when I say we owe her immense gratitude for everything she has done.”

Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, called Nightingale an “exceptionally talented broadcaster.”

He continued: “As well as pioneering new music, she was an advocate for female broadcasters, supporting and encouraging other women to enter the industry. We will all miss her dearly.”

A statement attributed to her family on Friday said that she “passed away yesterday at her London home after a short illness.”

“Annie was a pioneer, trailblazer and an inspiration to many. Her drive to share that enthusiasm with the public remained intact after six decades of broadcasting on BBC TV and radio globally.

“Never underestimate the role model she became. Breaking down doors by refusing to bow to sexual prejudice and male fear emboldened generations of young women who, like Annie, just wanted to tell you about an amazing tune they had just heard.

“Watching Annie do this on television in the 1970s, most famously as presenter of BBC music show The Old Gray Whistle Test, or hearing her play the latest breakbeat techno on Radio One is testament to someone who never stopped believing. in the magic of rock and roll.”

They added that a celebration of her life would be held at a memorial service in the spring.

‘A pioneer for women’
Nightingale presented Radio 1’s famous Request Show in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s before moving to a late-night slot. She also presented occasional shows on Radio 2, 5 Live and 6 Music, as well as a variety of documentaries.

“Every week at my job is a new adventure. I enjoy it,” she said last July. “People don’t understand it. Most people get bored of pop music when they get to a certain age. I’m still interested in where it goes, its twists and turns.”

Current Radio 1 boss Aled Haydn Jones said in a statement: “All of us at Radio 1 are devastated to lose Annie, our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

He added: “She was the first female DJ on Radio 1 and during her 50 years at the station she was a pioneer for women in the industry and in dance music. We have lost a broadcasting legend.”

final show
Radio 1 presenter Greg James wrote in X that Nightingale’s life and achievements had been “so extraordinary that it would not be possible to summarize them here”.

Glastonbury Festival co-organiser Emily Eavis said she had been “an inspiration to so many women in music” and a “lovely human being”.

And she added: “Farewell, dear Annie, a pioneer and a true enthusiast.”

Nightingale was last on air with a three-part “best of 2023” program on December 19.

After playing songs by Dimitri Vegas, Daft Punk, Sam Smith and Bad Bunny, she signed off by wishing listeners “a shine