Jasmine Bligh

Jasmine Bligh

Jasmine Lydia Bligh (May 20 1913 – July 21 1991) was one of the first three BBC Television Service presenters in the 1930s, along with Leslie Mitchell and Elizabeth Cowell, providing continuity announcements and introducing programmes in-vision. She rejoined the service in 1946 after its Second World War hiatus and was the first person to appear when broadcasting was resumed, greeting viewers with the words "Good afternoon everybody. How are you? Do you remember me, Jasmine Bligh?" After twenty minutes she introduced the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Mickey's Gala Premiere", which had been the last programme shown before the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. [http://www.transdiffusion.org/emc/baird/tvoff.php]

Intending to start her career as an actress, Bligh met with some opposition from her mother. However, she became a Charlot showgirl at the Cambridge Theatre, London, aged 17. Five years later, Bligh, struggling as an actress, answered a BBC advertisement for female television 'hostess-announcers' - unmarried and without red hair. Both Bligh and Elizabeth Cowell were chosen for the jobs out of 1122 applicants across the British Empire. Along with Leslie Mitchell, they were seen during test transmissions from Alexandra Palace in 1935.

Her theatrical experience, however, proved very useful as she had to learn 400 words a day to speak direct to the camera. The press, at that time, described Bligh and Cowell as 'Twin Paragons', and Bligh continued when the BBC began its regular television service a year later. She became a personality in her own right, amongst other daring escapades, she was seen being given a fireman's lift and hurtling about in a motorcycle sidecar.

Bligh was born in London, England, United Kingdom and was the niece of Esme Ivo Bligh, the 9th Earl of Darnley, [Burke’s Peerage & Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage, Crans, Switzerland, 1999, p. 767. Jasmine Bligh was granddaughter of Ivo Francis Walter Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley; her father was Noel Gervase Bligh, brother of the 9th Earl, and her mother was Mary Jack Frost, daughter of Captain George Alfred Frost.] and also said to be a descendant of Captain William Bligh, the commander famously usurped in the mutiny on the Bounty in the 18th century. She married twice, first in 1940. Her first husband was Lt-Col Sir John Paley Johnson, 6th Bt, with whom she had a daughter, Sarah; they divorced in 1947, and she married Frank Hugh Shirley Fox in 1948; they divorced in 1953.

She later married a third time, to broadcaster, Howard Marshall, and his illness in 1967 led her to look for a new way of earning money. She set-up a secondhand clothes shop called Bargain and sold off her wealthy friends' clothes that they no longer required.

Later she presented the BBC's "Television for Deaf Children" in the 1950s. She continued to work in television up until the 1970s, when she presented "Good Afternoon" for Thames Television.

Her husband, Howard Marshall, died in 1973 and in 1981 a stroke left Bligh with speech difficulty. She died ten years later.


External links

* [http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?LinkID=mp10050 Photographs of Jasmine Bligh at the National Portrait Gallery website]

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