Entertainment & Arts

Profile: Jenni Murray

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Media captionJenni Murray: Becoming a Dame is "a bit flash"

Jenni Murray, who has been made a dame in the Birthday Honours list, has become synonymous with BBC Radio 4 weekday show Woman's Hour which she has presented since 1987.

Vintage Murray moments from the show include a confrontation with Margaret Thatcher about her childcare policies, a flirtatious interview with Jack Nicholson and asking then-Chancellor Gordon Brown if he would show his wife his tax returns.

Former Woman's Hour Editor Sally Feldman has praised Murray, 61, for the "hard journalism" that goes into her interviews, adding: "She never lets her research show and yet it's meticulously done."

And Woman's Hour regular, writer Julie Bindel, once summed up the feelings of Woman's Hours many devotees when she said the show would "die with her - she is an era, along with the programme, and it can't be reproduced".

Image caption Murray, pictured in 1986, presented the Today programme with John Humphrys and Brian Redhead

Murray, who received an OBE in 1999 for services to radio broadcasting, had a grammar school education in her home town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, before going on to study French and drama at the University of Hull.

She began broadcasting in 1973 on local radio in Bristol, before presenting BBC TV's South Today between 1978 and 1983.

She worked on BBC Two's Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme before taking over from Sue MacGregor on Woman's Hour.

The show now broadcasts at 1000 on weekdays and at 1600 on Saturdays.

She has also written for various newspapers, including the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, and has had several books published.

They include Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful Daughter and a guide to the menopause entitled Is It Me Or Is It Hot In Here?

'Cosy warrior'

In December 2006, Murray, then 56, told her listeners she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Image caption Jenni Murray won a Sony gold award last month

"Treatments are very good these days and I know quite a bit about this disease thanks to working on the programme... fingers crossed, everything should be alright," she said at the time.

Murray carried on with the show while she had treatment, cutting down to a three-day week.

"It stopped me moping at home with nothing to think about other than the cancer cells that might be escaping to other parts of my body," she said later.

In 2008, she had both her hips replaced after a scan showed the bone at the top of each leg had died off.

Later that year, she wrote in the Daily Mail that, following a mastectomy and months of chemotherapy, she had hoped her health worries were behind her.

Her condition was a little-known side effect of chemotherapy, she wrote.

Murray's damehood is the latest recognition of the talents of a presenter once described as "the cosy warrior of middle England".

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