Anna Ford (born 2 October 1943) is an English former journalist, television presenter and newsreader. She first worked as a researcher, news reporter and later newsreader for Granada Television, ITN, and the BBC. Ford helped launch the first British breakfast television programme TV-am. She retired from broadcast news presenting in April 2006 and was a non-executive director of Sainsbury's until the end of 2012. Ford now lives in her home town of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
|Born||2 October 1943|
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
|Occupation||Journalist, television presenter, newsreader|
|Spouse(s)||Alan Bittles (divorced), Mark Boxer (deceased 1988)|
|Partner(s)||Jon Snow (1970s), David Scott (2000)|
Ford was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire to parents who were both West End actors. Her father had declined an offer from Samuel Goldwyn to work in Hollywood, and her mother, Jean (née Winstanley; sister of MP and broadcaster Michael Winstanley, Baron Winstanley) had worked with Alec Guinness. Her father John later became ordained as an Anglican priest and took Ford 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. After her father became the parish priest at St Martin's Church in Brampton she moved to the White House Grammar School.
Ford worked as a teacher for four years, including teaching Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners at the Her Majesty's Prison Maze in Ulster for two years. She was later an Open University social studies tutor in Belfast for two years. Ford was thirty by the time she joined Granada Television as a researcher in 1974. Initially, she was told she was too old to be a newsreader, but became a reporter and newsreader on Granada Reports. She joined the BBC in January 1977, but only after several months obtaining security clearance from MI5 because she was then living with a former communist, and worked on Man Alive and Tomorrow's World.
In February 1978, Ford moved to ITN, faced with quickly abandoned legal threats from the BBC for breaking her contract. Future colleague Reginald Bosanquet said at the time: "I have never been averse to working with ladies... I do not know Anna but I have heard that she is a very competent and professional lady." Ford remains fond of his memory, and they formed a good professional relationship. Ford began presenting ITV's News at One in March and later the 5:45PM bulletin, but within two months had become the first female newscaster on News at Ten.
In 1981, she controversially left ITN to join the presenting team of the soon-to-launch TV-am. ITN were bidding for the breakfast franchise themselves and had positioned Ford as the lead anchor in their bid, unaware that she was involved with any other bidder. When her subterfuge was exposed, ITN immediately terminated her contract and publicly criticized her dishonesty and disloyalty. Her tenure at TV-am was short lived in part due to fierce competition from the BBC's casually styled Breakfast Time. The loss of viewers resulted in a relaunch which was perceived as "dumbing-down" of the station, and only three months after the station's launch, Ford was dismissed from TV-am partly due to her on-air support for chairman Peter Jay (who had already resigned) and partly because she refused to stand down from Good Morning Britain when the ratings slumped. Ford was involved in an incident at a party in which she threw her wine over Jonathan Aitken to express her outrage over his involvement in her sacking from the channel.
Ford 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 1993. From 1999, she fronted the re-launched One O'Clock News.
In 1996, Ford was accused of bias when hosting a discussion on treatment of men during divorce cases on the Today programme. The three-minute discussion featured feminist barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft and Neil Lyndon, a critic of feminism, with Ford allowing Woodcraft to speak for more than two minutes of the three-minute feature. Lyndon received an apology for his treatment on the programme and Ford, herself a feminist, was reprimanded by Rod Liddle, then the programme's editor.
On 30 October 2005, Ford announced she would retire from broadcasting in April 2006 to pursue other interests while she "still has the interest and energy". She also talked about ageism, stating:
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."
Ford presented her last One O'Clock News on 27 April 2006, signing 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. She is the Chair of Sainsbury's board's Corporate Responsibility Committee.
On 17 December 2001, she was installed as Chancellor of the Victoria University of Manchester. When the Victoria University of Manchester merged with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) on 1 October 2004 to create the new University of Manchester, she became its Co-Chancellor along with Sir Terry Leahy (the former Chancellor of UMIST). (From August 2008 Tom Bloxham was the sole Chancellor.) On 22 April 2006, Ford received an honorary doctorate from the University of St Andrews, nominated by Sir Menzies Campbell.
Ford had an early marriage to Alan Bittles, although this dissolved[when?] before her television career and, in the late 1970s, she was briefly engaged to Jon Snow, a colleague at ITN. She 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 briefly engaged in 2000, to former astronaut David Scott. Ford became the subject 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.
In a letter to The Guardian in February 2010, Ford accused Martin Amis (a friend of her late husband Mark Boxer) of having neglected his duties as godfather to her daughter Claire and also having been disrespectful to Boxer at the time of his death. Amis rejected her allegations in a reply, but accepted that he had been remiss in his duties as godfather.
- James Thompson (12 July 2012). "Anna Ford signs off from Sainsbury's – Business News – Business". The Independent. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- Bill Hagerty "Anna Ford: Try a little tenderness", British Journalism Review, 18:3, 2007, p.9-16
- Pike, Caitlin; Ritchie, Eleanor (4 November 2005). "Women presenters pay tribute to trailblazer Ford". Press Gazette.[permanent dead link]
- Anna Ford: Hardy perennial BBC News – 3 August 2001
- Mark Hollingshurst and Richard Norton Taylior Blacklist: The Inside Story of Political Vetting, London: Hogarth Press, 1988, p.106; David Leigh and Paul Lashmar "The Blacklist in Room 105", The Observer, 18 August 1985, p.9
- "1978: Ford makes her ITN debut", BBC On This Day, 13 February
- Leapman, Michael. Treachery: The Power Struggle at TV-am. Unwin Hyman 1984. ISBN 978-0-04-791041-8
- Young, Kirsty (18 March 2012). "Desert Island Discs: Anna Ford". BBC.
- Higgins, Charlotte (22 February 2010). "Martin Amis responds: A poor godparent, yes, but I did not 'fill in time' at friend's deathbed". The Guardian.
- McKie, Andrew (31 August 1997). "Bias reprimand for Anna Ford". The Sunday Telegraph.
- Newsreader Ford retiring from BBC BBC News – 30 October 2005
- Anna Ford talks tough on ageism BBC News – 9 April 2006
- "J. Sainsbury Appoints Famous U.K. Newsreader To Board" Forbes.com – 2 May 2006
- "Sainsbury's Corporate Responsibility Report 2008, with Ford's article on page 6. (pdf file)" (PDF). J-sainsbury.co.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- Power, Bairbre (21 May 2000). "Feisty Anna Ford leaps to the defence of her moon walker boyfriend". Irish Independent.
- "Camden New Journal". Camden New Journal. 28 January 2005. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- "Mark Boxer, Editor, Cartoonist And Social Satirist, Is Dead at 57". The New York Times. 23 July 1988.
- Smith, Andrew (2005). Moondust: in search of the men who fell to Earth. New York: Fourth Estate. pp. 324–325. ISBN 978-0-00-715541-5. OCLC 58720734.
- The root of Martin Amis's anger The Guardian – 20 February 2010
- Martin Amis: a response The Guardian – 22 February 2010
- Biography from BBC News
- Anna Ford on IMDb
- Audio interview on Woman's Hour re her retirement
- BBC Radio 3's "Private Passions" – musical play list
- Daily Telegraph article, 28 April 2006 – "Anna Ford says goodbye Britain as she signs off after 27 years"
- Biography at the Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Open University profile