Final Woman’s Hour for Dame Jenni Murray after 33 years on air

Dame Jenni Murray signed off from her final episode on Woman’s Hour with Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem I Am Woman.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 7:04 am

The broadcaster, 70, is saying farewell after more than three decades on the airwaves, earning her the title of the longest serving host in the BBC Radio 4 programme’s history.

Ending her broadcast, she told listeners there are “many, many different stereotypes that fit our gender, so there is no one stereotypical woman, but our sex, we share.

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“Goodbye from me and thank you all for listening and being such a vital part of the Woman’s Hour family”.

She went on to thank the “three men in her family” whom she said had given her “endless support”, before saying: “Take it away, Helen” and playing the famous song.

Australia-born Reddy died in Los Angeles aged 78 earlier this week. Reddy, who had Addison’s disease and was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, spent the last years of her life in a celebrity care home.

Dame Jenni’s final episode included a collection of her best bits throughout the years, including interviews with Baroness Thatcher and Hillary Clinton.

She said having American folk singer Joan Baez on as a guest had been the “peak” of her career and that hearing Baez perform the song Diamonds and Rust in the studio left her “sobbing inside because she was so wonderful”.

Opening yesterday’s show, she also revealed she had been sent a cake from TV chef Mary Berry.

She said: “Good morning and welcome to Woman’s Hour and, yes, it does feel very strange to be saying that for the last time after 33 years, although I am much cheered by a gift from Mary Berry, a chocolate cake sitting in front of me, waiting to be shared with the team and we will wait till the end of the programme, I promise you.”

The presenter was also joined during the first half of the broadcast by MP Harriet Harman, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Scottish makar Jackie Kay and Jude Kelly, director of the WOW (Women of the World) Foundation.

Kay asked Dame Jenni how it felt to be presenting her final show.

She replied: “Oh, no, it’s not allowed,” before adding: “I’m sitting on a chair – because I like a solid chair, not a chair that wiggles around – and it’s green and it’s been here for years.

“The studio managers have put a blue plaque on it: ‘Jenni Murray last sat on this chair on the 1st of October 2020’. But it is just very, very strange.”

During her tenure on air, Dame Jenni also interviewed high-profile figures such as Bette Davis, Barbara Castle, Shirley Williams, Gloria Steinem, Monica Lewinsky and Dame Judi Dench.

Born in Barnsley, Dame Jenni joined BBC Radio Bristol in 1973 and went on to report and present for BBC TV’s South Today.

In 1983, she joined Newsnight before moving to Radio 4 as a presenter for the Today programme.

She became the regular 
presenter of Woman’s Hour 
in 1987 and was made a dame in 2011 in recognition of her contribution to broadcast-
ing.

Emma Barnett will take over as the programme’s main presenter in January 2021.

Other presenters will guest host in place of Dame Jenni until Barnett takes over the job on a permanent basis.

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