Elizabeth Cowell

(1912-1998)

The First Female BBC Television Announcers

There were originally two hostesses who, along with Leslie Mitchell, presented BBC television from Alexandra Palace. Their selection was a complicated and exciting process that shook the dignitaries of the British Broadcasting Corporation to the core.

The requirements were alarming. Obviously they had to be beautiful because their first responsibility was to be looked at easily. They had to have charming voices because they would make announcements continually.

They needed exceptional intelligence. In Television there is comparatively little time for rehearsal and there is the constant problem of dealing with people who are horribly nervous and who may say, or do the wrong thing in front of the camera at any moment. In addition they had to have a sense of humour, a sense of clothes and an iron constitution.

Out of many hundreds of applications the final selections were Elizabeth Cowell, a lovely brunette, the daughter of a squire in Cambridgeshire, and Jasmine Bligh, a niece of the Earl of Darnley. Elizabeth was tall, handsome, artistic and Jasmine was pretty, humorous and had remarkable powers of improvisation.

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