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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lizzie Edmonds

Angela Rippon says she received 'overwhelming' support for her Strictly stint

Broadcaster Angela Rippon has spoken about the "overwhelming" reaction she has had from the public about her taking part in Strictly Come Dancing - and picked her 2023 glitterball trophy champion.

This weekend, the latest series of the BBC One dancing competition will come to an end, with celebrities Layton Williams, Ellie Leach and Bobby Brazier battling it out to lift the Strictly glitterball trophy. Annabel Croft narrowly missed out on being a finalist on Sunday night.

Rippon, who turned 79 while participating in the series, was the oldest contestant in the show's history. She and her dance partner Kai Widdrington were the eighth couple to be eliminated.

Speaking to the Standard, Rip-Off Britain star Rippon said she had received an “overwhelming” response to her stint on the show, adding many people told her they had been inspired to try new things.

She said: "I am a great believer that age is just some figure on a bit of paper.

"What has been overwhelming is having women - and also men too - saying: ‘Gosh you have been an inspiration. You have changed people’s perceptions of us older people'."

Rippon and dance partner Kai Widdrington (BBC)

Speaking about who she thought was a worthy winner of the series, Rippon, who will take part in the Strictly live tour in 2024, added: "I think Ellie - she is a super little dancer, a little pocket rocket.

"She has taken everything on board. She is a great, all-round dancer. But obviously, it is up to the public who wins."

Rippon recently spoke about how former BBC Director General John Birt acted with “misogyny and ageism” towards her 30 years ago as she was honoured with the Outstanding Achievement Award during the TRIC Christmas Lunch.

During her acceptance speech, she said Birt had told her to step down when she was 50 - suggesting she'd had “her day” and should let other younger women rise up through the ranks. 

When about the speech, Rippon said broadcasting had changed and there was far more equality on show now than three decades ago. 

“The only reason I brought it up was that I was getting a lifetime achievement award,” she said.

“And I was told 30 years ago: ‘You have had your day,’ so it was a bit ironic.

"What I went on to say was that in that time things have changed. That was an attitude that was very old fashioned and outdated. They aren’t gone entirely, but my god have we moved on.

"Now when you listen to the radio or watch television, there are women in every aspect of broadcasting. There is a mutual respect on both sides - men respecting what women bring to broadcasting and women respecting what men bring. They are equals in many many areas."

Rippon also spoke about her partnership with Amazon and its Alexa device. A new campaign, where the older generation were given an Alexa to see if it helped with feelings of isolation and loneliness, found 81 per cent of participants felt less alone after four weeks of using an Alexa.

About the project, Rippon said: "No piece of machinery or technology is ever going to take the place of human contact.

"But for a lot of people, [human contact] becomes more difficult [when they are older]. Having an Alexa in the house meant participants felt much better and more confident in themselves, and that is a gateway to going out and being sociable and having that contact."

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