Angela Rippon: on the warpath

Angela Rippon: on the warpath

Pic © Activa Healthcare

Angela Rippon is nowhere near finished with tackling rip-off merchants. The presenter and former newscaster is back on TV this month with co-presenters Gloria Hunniford and Julia Somerville for the latest episodes of Rip-Off Britain – the consumer show that doesn’t take no for an answer from fraudsters.

“We’ve got lots to come,” says Angela. “Ten programmes on issues around travel, followed by ten on food and 20 general episodes later this year. Last year we only did five travel and food specials, but there’s so much to cover that we’ve doubled the run.”

This follows a week of live Rip-Off Britain shows last autumn. Angela describes the plight of a lady who lost £2,000 to a fraudulent dating website. “When people are losing £25,000 to banking scams, £2,000 might not sound like much. But it was everything to this woman and I get so angry!

“This internet theft is theft on a grand scale,” Angela continues. “But at least we can show our viewers how to deal with it.”

As well as internet fraud, nuisance phone calls are still causing huge problems, particularly scammers fishing for banking details.

Angela’s advice, if you receive a phone call from someone you think may be pretending to be your bank, is to wait at least two minutes for the line to cut off, before ringing your bank to check the details with them. Or, use a different phone altogether. “Regardless,” she says, “your bank will never ask for your PIN number, or full passwords – but the scammers do.”

And there’s plenty to be aware of, even when you’re dealing with genuine businesses. “Be cautious, in everything. And don’t be fobbed off; perseverance is key.

 “Just because someone says you’re not entitled to compensation or a refund, it’s not necessarily the end of the story. There are bear traps lurking in the small print that can catch anyone out. But we want to give people the confidence to go to the top and make a case.”

Rip-Off Britain’s success lies with leading ladies Angela, Gloria and Julia. They have the nation’s trust, as well as the industry clout to take on big business. “We hope the fact that we’ve been around for a long time means that people can believe in us,” she says.

But despite the continued success of Rip-Off Britain, Angela is most proud of her contribution towards raising awareness of dementia. “One in three of us are involved with dementia in one way or another,” she says. “As part of a team I’m bringing the condition out of the shadows, working with large companies and their staff, who care for sufferers. And the schools programme that I run has been taking shape as well. We’d like to help more people with dementia to live out their lives happily at home, surrounded by a generation that understands the condition – even if that means
I will be out of a job ten years
from now!”

Joking aside, Angela has never held with the notion of age alone putting her out of work. “It might seem like there aren’t many older women on television at the moment, but that’s simply down to how few were working in television 40 years ago,” she says. “There were only a few women journalists around when I started – Gloria and Julia, Anna Ford, Esther Rantzen, Sue Lawley and Sue McGregor for example – so if you want women with age and experience, you’ve only got us to choose from at the moment!

“You can’t tell me all the brilliant young women working in TV now won’t continue to work in 20 years’ time. In the same way sexism did, ageism will pass into history and people will forget it.”

Her years of experience have also helped Angela stay healthy. “People don’t realise you have to be fit for telly,” she explains. “I was often on my feet for ten hours a day and you have to be
as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the end of the day as at
the beginning.”

To stay on top of her game, Angela does Pilates, plays tennis, and power walks. “Keep your legs and feet as fit and strong as possible – they’re your passport to freedom,” she advises. She also swears by the benefits of salt on her skin. “I’m a great believer in exfoliating. Every Sunday I use ordinary table salt, with cleanser or liquid soap. It’s very gentle
on the face and leaves it feeling like silk.”

But Angela’s main body booster is dancing. “It’s one of the best exercises. If you’ve not got a partner, do line dancing! It’s terrific for people with dementia. They can move to the music and enjoy the memories that come with it.”

And we’ll certainly never forget her high-kicking dancing debut on the Morecambe and Wise Show in  in 1976. “Goodness, I expect people are fed up with hearing about that!” she laughs. “I remained very good friends with Eric and Ernie and I’m still in touch with their widows, Joan Morecambe in particular.”

Angela knows what’s important, no matter how long she’s been in the limelight. “I have very good friends in the industry, but most of my friends are outside of showbiz, and keep my feet on the ground. Which is good,” she chuckles.

No airs and graces, good health and great skin. What more could anyone want?

  • Rip-Off Britain is on BBC1, daily at 11am, from Jan 6.
  • Angela also fronts the Get Active with Activa campaign. For more details visit

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