The presenter, who is 62, made the decision to leave to pursue other interests now that her two daughters from her marriage to the late cartoonist Mark Boxer have grown up. "I've done it for 27 years," she said. "I started reading the news in 1978 and I've been in news and current affairs since 1974 when I started at Granada."
The BBC veteran has not decided yet what her next move will be. "I'm looking at my options and where I want my life to go from now on. My children are grown up and I'm free to do what I want," she said.
A long and successful career in television news has been peppered by Ford's feisty responses to anyone, usually men, whom she perceives as belittling her or her sex. When Sir Robin Day attributed Ford's success to the fact that every man who saw her wanted to sleep with her, she retaliated in no uncertain terms. "Silly old fool. I pushed him into a bush for that," Ford once said in an interview with the Radio Times.
Jonathan Aitken also felt the sharp edge of the presenter's wrath when she threw a glass of wine over him at a party because she was so furious with him for sacking her as one of the original "famous five" line up on TV-AM.
When he was director general of the BBC, Sir John Birt received short shrift from Ford after he criticised her for making "more interruptions than appropriate" in an interview with Ken Clarke. "I thought, how pathetic that the BBC isn't robust enough to realise we're here to question those in power," she said at the time.
In 2001, she branded the newspaper watchdog the Press Complaints Commission a "pussycat" after it rejected a complaint she made about being photographed with a long lens camera while sunbathing in a bikini on a public beach with her then partner, former US astronaut David Scott. Ford lost a High Court challenge to the PCC ruling.
Not lacking a sense of humour, when Boris Johnson was elected Tory MP for Henley, Ford asked him: "How will you be able to look after Henley when you can't look after yourself?"
More recently, she was quick to put down Michael Buerk as a "poor miserable old bat" after he suggested that men had become redundant in a female dominated society.
Private Eye used to refer to Ford as a "doe-eyed talented autocue reader", while Auberon Waugh was given to kissing the television screen when she appeared. But Ford was much more matter of fact about her appearance. "The truth is that I was in the right place at the right time, was reasonably intelligent, and looked good on television because I have a wide face," she once confessed.
If journalism had not beckoned, Ford might have pursued an alternative career as a singer. As a student in Manchester she toured pubs and clubs. In 2000, she revisited her talent when she recorded a cover version of Sir Paul McCartney's "Here, There and Everywhere".
Ford began her television career in 1974, working on the news desk at Granada Television in Manchester. In 1976, she joined the BBC show Man Alive, moving to Tomorrow's World in 1977.