Rippon's future in doubt over bullying row at ballet

The future of the broadcaster Angela Rippon as chairman of the English National Ballet was in doubt last night after her deputy accused her of bullying staff.

Insiders of the dance world claimed senior management and some members of the board at the company had become increasingly disenchanted with Ms Rippon, whose strident tone had caused widespread unhappiness.

Letters leaked yesterday suggested that matters had come to a head, with Denise Fiennes, the board's deputy chairman, suggesting that Ms Rippon should reconsider her intention to seek a second three-year term of office.

The letters said Ms Rippon had "caused distress" among staff, who were "intimidated because [her] manner has become increasingly stern ­ some have said strident and angry".

In response, Ms Rippon was quoted denying the charge: "It's not true that I've been intimidating people. They asked me to stay on with other duties. I don't think that would have been the case if they were unhappy."

Ms Rippon's agent, Sue Ayton, called the allegations "outrageous" last night.

"Angela has put her heart and soul and so much time into the ENB," she said. "The board has recognised all that she has done. She has been voted in for a second term ­ [these letters] sound like someone is disgruntled."

Staff confirmed that Ms Rippon's three-year term as chairman was due to end within the next few months, but the board managed only to muddy the waters by refusing to address the bullying charges or clarify arrangements for securing a new chairman.

In a statement, it said: "At a board meeting on 4 September 2003, the board of governors of the English National Ballet confirmed that Angela Rippon will continue as chairman of the board for the foreseeable future. The board recognises Angela's great contribution to English National Ballet and particularly her chairmanship of the last three years."

Even critics have praised the way Ms Rippon threw herself into supporting the company, with which she has been involved in various capacities for almost a decade.

She has been highly successful in unlocking vital sponsorship money with her enthusiastic approach. But her manner has been variously described as "schoolmistressy" and "imperious". She was said to have made a stream of suggestions to staff as to how things should be done ­ and left the strong impression that she expected her ideas to be acted upon.

The new allegations may also shed some light on the sudden departure earlier this year of the English National Ballet's managing director, Christopher Nourse.

The announcement that he intended to leave only two years after he was appointed from the Rambert Dance Company surprised ENB dancers and other members of the dance world, where Mr Nourse was highly regarded.

Few could understand why he had decided to quit what claims to be the world's leading touring classical ballet troupe with no alternative job to go to. He has not yet found a new post.

When contacted yesterday, he would only echo the words of the official statement that announced his departure: "When I unexpectedly left the English National Ballet four months ago, my departure was because my job as managing director had not turned out as I had anticipated." He refused to say anything more.

Ms Rippon's most famous connection with dance was when she stepped out from behind her desk as a BBC television newsreader to dance with Morecambe and Wise.

In recent years, she has been presenting an arts programme for LBC 97.3 radio station in London. During the Iraq conflict she was brought back to television to provide an authoritative voice for ITV's late-night bulletins.

Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015