Diane-Louise Jordan

TV and radio broadcaster, and visionary advocate for social impact

Diane smiling on the rugby field wearing graduation cap and gown

Diane-Louise Jordan was awarded an Honorary Degree in Winter 2023. Here you can read her degree oration.

Chancellor, it is my pleasure today to present to you a well-known and much-loved face of a generation.  

Born to migrant parents in the 1960s, Diane-Louise Jordan has challenged societal norms to forge her career in the public eye.  

Diane has been a broadcaster for more than 30 years. Through her work in television and radio, Diane has become widely acclaimed for her understanding and empathy, not least in interacting with the public, and her career has often centred around creating a safe and inclusive space for all.  

Starting out in acting following a dare from her school classmates to audition, it was then in 1990 when she was discovered and selected to appear on the BBC’s Blue Peter, becoming the first Black presenter of the show.  

This was a milestone moment for the programme that made headlines and marked a shift in the landscape of British television – but it did not come without challenges. She became well-known and adored by the public and won over audiences. Diane knew she had to get her time on Blue Peter right to pave the way for others like her.  

Following six years on the show, when Diane did decide to move on, Blue Peter dedicated two whole shows to her departure – a first in the programme’s history. 

She then left the show having been one of its long-running presenters to take up a position on Songs of Praise on BBC1 – where she spent two decades. She has also spent early mornings hosting The Sunday Hour on Radio 2. Her versatility as a presenter became evident in her numerous other TV and radio credits, too, including Countryfile, Out & About, Bright Sparks, and Antiques Road Show. 

Passionate about seeing all people thrive, Diane dedicates time to charity and to promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities.  

In 2005, after several times reporting on the London Marathon, Diane completed it herself and raised a considerable amount of money for one of her charities.  

She utilises her platform to really support those who are most in need.  

Diane embraces philanthropy and is a true believer of giving back to support others. This is shown through her great range of charitable endeavours – including overcoming a fear of swimming for Channel 4’s Celebrity Sink or Swim to raise awareness for Stand up to Cancer.  

Diane is an ambassador for CBM – an international charity that works to prevent blindness among the world’s most disadvantaged areas. In the past she has held trustee roles with The Prince’s Trust and Children in Need and has been involved with organisations such as Action For Children and Bromley Youth Music Trust.  

Under former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Diane was invited to sit on the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Committee and she later became a member of the board for The Diana Awards.  

During the last three years, Diane has developed an oral history archive, The Making of Black Britain, which seeks to tell stories and explore what it means to be British. Through developing this archive, Diane sought to explore the transition between “old” and “new” Britain, paying consideration to the introduction of The Nationality Act which marked its 75th anniversary this year.  

The project tells the stories of everyone across a range of generations to learn how Britain emerged, creating a story of nationality, identity and belonging. Its primary objective is to document life in Britain – particularly from people of Caribbean, Asian and African heritage. 

Under Diane's leadership, the project has gathered stories from people of diverse backgrounds, creating an inclusive narrative that spans colour, class, and creed. 

Her vision is to establish an evergreen archive that reflects the rich diversity of Britain today and that acknowledges the pivotal role of mass migration from Commonwealth nations.  

Recently, Diane was a speaker at the University for our Storytelling Academy. Diane kindly shared with us her experiences of not feeling heard, considering the contemporary power and applications of storytelling. 

We are delighted to have Diane with us here again today and to recognise her incredible achievements and career: her outstanding contribution to broadcasting and her continued work championing societal equal opportunity and inclusivity. 

Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you and the whole University, Diane-Louise Jordan for the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.