The UK Radio Hall of Fame

Marjorie Anderson

(born November 1913 - died December 1999)

Many actresses who went through drama school in the thirties emerged with high-pitched, strangled voices, but Marjorie Anderson's was different - deep, clear, well modulated, perfect for radio, in fact. After studying at London's Central School, she acted on BBC radio from 1937. In 1940 she was among those trained to become the BBC's first female disc jockeys, and went on to present 'Forces Favourites' on the General Forces Programme. After World War II, when the show became 'Two-Way Family Favourites', the chummier Jean Metcalfe was picked as the female host.

Anderson, whose approach was sober and traditional (for many she came to epitomise 'Auntie' BBC), found her niche as the presenter of the weekday 'Woman's Hour' on the Home Service. She was an occasional presenter from the programme's inception in 1946, then in 1955 took over its Sunday spin-off 'Home For The Day'. She was the regular presenter of both shows from 1958. 'Woman's Hour' originally confined itself to home hints and beauty tips, but moved with the times, introducing with the rise of feminism many topics hitherto regarded as taboo. Anderson's skill lay in handling everything with her natural sangfroid, while also sounding sincere and never patronising.

She stayed with 'Home For The Day' until it ended in 1968, and only left 'Woman's Hour' when she retired from broadcasting in 1972. Apart from a few TV commentaries, she spent virtually her entire working life on radio. Most female presenters on Radio 4 still admit to her influence.