Miranda Ward

Born: January 21, 1946;

Died: December 23, 2019.

MIRANDA Ward, who has died aged 73, had the distinction of being the first female broadcaster to be heard on Radio 1 when it was launched on 30 September 1967 – interviewing Beatle George Harrison.

As a rock journalist on music papers, she was hired as a reporter with her own spot, Miranda’s Meanders, on the Scene and Heard weekly magazine show, presented by Johnny Moran. he persuaded the Beatles to let her join them during a four-day coach trip through Devon as they shot their Magical Mystery Tour TV special, three months ahead of its Boxing Day screening.

Half of the Harrison interview, recorded in Newquay, was broadcast in the first Scene and Heard show. He told Ward about the filming and how his interest in Indian culture started when he heard of “people levitating and de-materialising, and doing all sorts of wondrous things”.

With her tape recorder firmly off, she joined the group late one night in a Perranporth pub where Paul McCartney played singalong numbers such as I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside on an upright piano. was really annoying Paul because I wanted him to do Yellow Submarine and he wouldn’t,” she recalled later. “He was doing everything but. Then, he’d play the opening bars – and go into something else.”

This was typical of her lifestyle as part of the Sixties rock scene and that first episode of Scene and Heard finished Radio 1’s schedule at the end of a historic day in British broadcasting.

With the new station, the BBC was finally satisfying those who previously got their fix of modern pop music only by tuning in to Radio Luxembourg or the offshore pirate stations.

However, Ward finished on the show in January 1968. Curiously, from the following month, she was heard over five Sundays interviewing the Bishop of Coventry in the Radio 2 five-minute religious slot The First Day of the Week, then disappeared from the airwaves.

She was born Charlotte Miranda Vosper Kirby (the family later changed the spelling to Kirkby) in London in 1946 to Jean (nee Vosper), a former civilian officer in the Admiralty War Rooms, and Richard Kirkby, a major and, later, lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Marines until he retired in 1958.

Following her father on his different postings, she grew up in Malta, West Berlin and Egypt, before the family settled in London. On leaving St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith, she briefly worked as an assistant stage manager and wardrobe assistant in theatres.

Abandoning ideas of acting, she then took a Pitman shorthand and typing course and, after meeting rock stars in Soho coffee bars, found freelance journalism work, using the byline Miranda Ward, taken from her paternal grandmother’s birth surname.

She worked for Record Mirror and New Musical Express, and contributed a column to the American publication Hit Parader as “Our Gal in London”. She eventually left journalism, broadcasting and the music business in 1968 and, encouraged by Art Garfunkel, who had just trained as a maths teacher, did the same herself and taught at Mayfield School, Putney.

In 1978, one of her closest friends, folk singer Sandy Denny, went into a coma while staying at Ward’s London flat and died several days later. A distraught Ward suffered a nervous breakdown and moved to Gloucestershire, where she continued teaching.

Ward, who never married, is survived by her brother, Richard.