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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Ford's years reading and making news
Anna Ford
Ford is retiring from the BBC after 32 years as a journalist

Anna Ford, who joined the BBC in 1976, is retiring after seven years as presenter of the One O'clock News.

Ford's television career began in 1974 at the newsdesk of Manchester-based Granada TV.

Her first two roles at the BBC were

with documentary series Man Alive and long-running science programme Tomorrow's World.

But she then left the corporation to return to commercial television, becoming the first female presenter of ITN's News At Ten.

In 1983, she was one of the so-called "famous five" - with David Frost, Michael Parkinson, Angela Rippon and Robert Kee - who launched the breakfast programme TV-am.

Controversial sacking

Moira Stuart, Peter Sissons and Anna Ford in 1989
She has become one of the BBC's best-known newsreaders
But her departure from that company was acrimonious.

She blamed Jonathan Aitken - who later became a Conservative government minister - for playing an instrumental role in her sacking, after he masterminded a takeover of TV-am.

Famously, she threw a glass of wine in Mr Aitken's face, having topped it up first. She would later describe her actions as "good taste, not bad temper".

She returned to the BBC in 1986 and would become one of the corporation's best-known broadcasters on television and radio.

Making headlines

Ford has, on occasions, generated news stories herself.

Anna Ford in 1978
Ford joined ITN in 1978 and was the first woman to present News At Ten
In 1998, she was scathing about some of the top men in British television, including John Birt, the BBC director general at the time.

Birt had criticised her for interrupting the Conservative Chancellor Kenneth Clarke too often during an interview, remarks which she described as "pathetic" and "insulting" to the politician.

She criticised the professionalism of the late Desmond Wilcox, her one-time colleague, who had a "terrible bad temper".

The veteran broadcaster Sir Robin Day was "a silly old fool", she said, while most of the men at TV-am had been "pathetic, and can take a running jump".

Anna Ford
Ford performed a song during a Beatles tribute show in 2000
Ford also reacted strongly when fellow newsreader Michael Buerk recently said life was "being lived in accordance with women's rules", and the "shift in the balance of power between the sexes" had gone too far.

She described Buerk as a "miserable old bat", "bonkers" and "a dear old-fashioned chauvinist of the first order".

And after pictures of Ford in a bikini on a family beach holiday were published, a failed legal challenge also made the headlines.

She claimed she had been spied upon and secretly photographed on a secluded area of a public beach.

She appealed against a ruling by the Press Complaints Commission, which had decided her privacy had not been invaded.

But when a High Court judge agreed with the watchdog, Ford complained the commission only upheld its code "when members of the Royal Family or Aga Khan are involved".

Anna Ford and John Humphrys in 1993
Back at the BBC, she was a Today programme presenter in the 1990s
She has a keen interest in music, and once said she would have loved to have sung professionally, although her parents - both West End actors - never encouraged her to do so.

As a student in Manchester in the 1960s, she toured clubs with her guitar, performing folk songs for 5 a night.

In 2000, she sang Here, There and Everywhere on a BBC tribute programme to the Beatles.

But she always regretted not singing on the Morecambe and Wise show, having turned down an invitation shortly after an appearance by fellow newsreader Angela Rippon in 1976.

At the time, she feared she would "seem derivative" after Ms Rippon's "wonderful dance".

Anna Ford and Sophie Raworth
Ford with Sophie Raworth, who is taking over the One O'Clock News
Thirty-five years after graduating with a degree in economics, Ford was installed as the first female chancellor in the 150-year history of the University of Manchester in 2001.

She also received a doctorate from Queen's University, Belfast, in 2003 for services to journalism.

She taught at the city's Rupert Stanley College and was later a tutor at the Open University in Northern Ireland.

On her final day at the BBC, Ford said she felt "rather elated" about retiring with no firm plans ahead of her.

"I think it's something rather exciting about doing that where you suddenly feel footloose and fancy free."

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