Angela Rippon's secret to staying young aged 73

Angela Rippon's secret to staying young aged 73
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She was the first regular female newsreader and has had one of the longest running careers in the business. But seeing her on the box today, Angela Rippon looks barely a day older than when she presented our Nine O'Clock News. 

Now aged 73 and as busy as ever, with a crammed schedule most recently including presenting Rip Off Britain and How to Stay Young, she says the secret to her youthful looks and boundless energy in fact lies in a hobby we first realised she liked on the Morecambe and Wise show. 

Yes, it was the 1976 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special when we almost choked on our Quality Street as serious newsreader Angela Rippon revealed incredible dancing talents - and endless legs - that she'd been hiding away behind the news desk all this time. 

In fact, dancing was a love Angela had had since the age of four when she was first taken to ballet classes. 

 Angela in 1975

Angela in 1975

"I went to dance classes because I had knock knees and our family doctor thought dancing might help straighten and strengthen my legs. For me, I was like a duck to water and I absolutely loved it. I danced until I was 17 when I had to knuckle down for my exams before I began journalism training."

Since then, Angela has done dance classes in and around her work schedule, and is so passionate about its benefits that she's recently become an ambassador for the Royal Academy of Dance's Silver Swans programme, a scheme which offers tailor-made ballet classes to anyone over 55. 

"There was a recent study in Germany where a group of people over 60 did a dance class twice a week while another group did a regular exercise class twice a week. At the end of six months when they compared the results, the people who did the dancing were by far the fittest  because dancing involves using every part of your body, not just a specific bit. It also uses your mind as you coordinate and remember the steps so it ticks all the boxes as the total mind and body workout. 

"What I find with ballet is that you might go in a bit creaky and then after a few classes you notice your breathing, your posture and elegance all improves. What's more it's a way of socialising and it's fun."

As well as dance classes, Angela also plays tennis, does pilates classes and goes for regular power walks to stay fit and healthy. 

While she's never particularly harboured ambitions of being a professional dancer, Angela says she's been incredibly grateful for the opportunities that have come her way to perform. 

"We had a wonderful choreographer on the Morecambe and Wise special and the best thing about Eric and Ernie is that their comedy was clean and fun, they didn't embarrass people. It was just about showing another side which people might not have been aware of. They saw me as a newsreader, someone who was doing a serious job who perhaps didn’t realise that a- I could dance and b- I had a sense of humour."

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So would she consider something like Strictly in the future? 

"I presented Come Dancing which, if you like, was father to Strictly Come Dancing. When the series started the idea was they had people who had no idea how to dance and had never danced. Instead people were taken on that journey and given the opportunity to show anyone can dance which ties in with Silver Swans. However, because I’d had such a strong association with dance, Strictly didn’t ask me, nor would they or should they.

"Now as the programme has progressed a lot of people have done it with some dance background, but I’m not on their radar anyway. I love watching it like millions of other people. If they’d asked me a few years ago, yes I’d have loved to have done it but they didn’t and I think it’s probably past the time now when they would."

  • There are over 200 Silver Swans Licensed Teachers located across the UK. To find your nearest Silver Swans class visit:www.rad.org.uk/silverswans