An­nie Nightin­gale

Ra­dio 1 DJ An­nie Nightin­gale tells John Wright why the Bea­tles were grate­ful to her and how she al­most be­come a nun

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Money -

An­nie Nightin­gale MBE, 78, is a ra­dio and tele­vi­sion broad­caster who found fame as BBC Ra­dio 1’s first fe­male DJ and is now its longest­serv­ing pre­sen­ter. She has a weekly show on Ra­dio 1 and 1Xtra, is a guest pre­sen­ter on BBC 6 Mu­sic and has writ­ten two au­to­bi­ogra­phies, Chase The Fade and

Wicked Speed. She has trav­elled the world mak­ing mu­sic doc­u­men­taries and is a reg­u­lar DJ at clubs and fes­ti­vals across Bri­tain and Europe. She lives in Lon­don.

Did your child­hood af­fect your at­ti­tude to money?

Hugely. As a fam­ily in post­war Lon­don, we had very lit­tle. My fa­ther used to say: “Money is the root of all evil.” He was a re­luc­tant busi­ness­man, in­her­it­ing my grandfather’s wall­pa­per com­pany.

I was at a con­vent un­til I was 11. My pocket money went on rosaries and pic­tures of Je­sus and Mary. I was dragged away when I showed signs of want­ing to be­come a nun. I won a schol­ar­ship to a girls’ pub­lic school, Lady Eleanor Holles. My par­ents could never have af­forded the fees. Tellingly, the only O level I failed was eco­nom­ics. I had one glo­ri­ous year as a stu­dent in the West End and then was un­der pres­sure to get a job.

What were your first jobs?

Hol­i­day jobs such as wait­ress­ing or as a fil­ing clerk at the Milk Mar­ket­ing Board. At C&A, the Top­shop of its time, I earned less in com­mis­sion than any other sales­girl sell­ing clothes ever. I couldn’t say “This cock­tail gown re­ally suits you” when it clearly didn’t!

My favourite job was work­ing in a record shop. But I didn’t know how to re-or­der the top 10, so I got fired.

I wanted to be­come a jour­nal­ist after see­ing Ro­man Hol­i­day, but not for the money. In my first job as a news­pa­per re­porter in Brighton I was paid about £4 a week.

Are you a saver or a spen­der?

I have learnt not to be a big spen­der, though I will have the odd splurge.

Does money make you happy?

A cer­tain amount gives you free­dom to turn down com­mer­cial of­fers that dam­age one’s rep­u­ta­tion. There is no ques­tion of say­ing yes if it com­pro­mises your in­tegrity.

Have you done any lu­cra­tive tele­vi­sion ad­verts?

I did one for British Gas. It was never shown for some rea­son, but I bought an ill-fated Fiat with what I earned. This was while pre­sent­ing the BBC tele­vi­sion show The Old Grey Whis­tle

Test as sole an­chor for five years, plus two Ra­dio 1 shows ev­ery week and writ­ing a news­pa­per col­umn.

What has been your worst fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion?

There’s a row of houses on the beach at Hove. They were derelict with bro­ken win­dows. I fell madly in love with one, but got talked out of buy­ing. They’re now known as Mil­lion­aires’ Row and worth about £4m each. Paul Mccart­ney stayed there. I be­lieve Adele owned one. They take a lot of pound­ings from storms, so need huge up­keep. I’m happy in Lon­don.

And your worst pur­chase?

Cars. My friends were full of ad­vice about what sec­ond-hand car to buy and they were all rub­bish. So I bought a brand-new Fiat. It let me down on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. Now I use mini­cabs.

What’s your big­gest ex­pense?

Shoes: Louboutins, Prada, Is­abel Marant, Chanel, Louis Vuitton. Mostly use­lessly dec­o­ra­tive – they live in boxes. I get them out and walk them round the room, then put them back. They’re like works of art to me.

What money ad­vice would you give DJS start­ing out?

It’s so hard to get paid! Ev­ery­one wants you to work for noth­ing, or a pit­tance. If you can get an agent or man­ager you trust, that could help. But you can end up hand­ing over a lot of what you earn in com­mis­sions.

If you can get paid up­front for gigs, do so. Oth­er­wise peo­ple can dis­ap­pear into the night after you’ve played.

It’s very hard to make money at the bot­tom of the pile. Ev­ery­one’s a DJ nowa­days. At the top you can earn 50 mil­lion bucks a year. But you need ex­pen­sive equip­ment to prac­tise on, so that’s a worth­while in­vest­ment.

Show­biz is about hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, not lucky breaks. Hang in there, don’t take no for an an­swer.

What’s the hard­est les­son you’ve learnt about money?

If you get money, hang on to it or safely in­vest. That line about a fool and his money are soon parted is true. Per­sonal re­la­tion­ships have proven ex­pen­sive for me. I was un­be­liev­ably naive – I’ve learnt a lit­tle, but could do with be­ing a lot wiser.

Have you ever been ripped off ?

Name any­one in show­biz who hasn’t. You need a very healthy at­ti­tude of sus­pi­cion to pro­tect you from those too-good-to-be-true of­fers.

What is the odd­est thing that has hap­pened to you con­cern­ing money?

I once stopped the minicab I was in to get some cash. When the per­son in front of me at the ATM left, I saw a huge amount of cash stick­ing out of the cash dis­penser, pos­si­bly thou­sands. I took the money into the bank, gave it to a teller and got back into the cab. The driver thought I was mad not to grab the money, but I couldn’t do it.

Have you ever gam­bled?

I once made enough money out of a fruit ma­chine on hol­i­day, aged 11, for a week­end’s worth of rid­ing lessons.

I have a very good record in the Grand Na­tional, but it’s only ever a quid each way. Now I pick about eight horses and post my pre­dic­tions on­line. You can’t make money this way; I just en­joy the thrill of the race.

Have songs you’ve played on air in­flu­enced their suc­cess?

I’ve given first plays to Daft Punk, LCD Soundsys­tem, The Po­lice. Ge­orge Har­ri­son once said to me: “You’ve been very good to us.” Me? Good to them? The Bea­tles changed mil­lions of peo­ple’s lives, in­clud­ing mine. I feel so for­tu­nate hav­ing a job I love do­ing and feel sad when I hear peo­ple say­ing “I hate my job”. An­nie Nightin­gale can be heard on BBC Ra­dio 1 and 1Xtra on Wed­nes­days from 1am to 3am

One of An­nie Nightin­gale’s in­dul­gences is shoes. ‘They’re like works of art to me’

An­nie Nightin­gale at home in Brighton in 1964 with the al­bum With the Bea­tles

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