“I accidentally called a famous painting ‘Fat Sue’ on the air – not exactly my prime”
When I was media and arts correspondent at ITV News, my most exciting moment was interviewing John Travolta in Cannes while promoting primary colors. I remember we were all waiting our turns during our closely watched three minutes with him, and each of us came out saying, “He’s just the nicest guy.” He was just the most charming and charismatic interviewee.
One thing about your job
While working on the Proms and on Radio 3, I receive the best musicians in the world who play in front of me. It’s just fantastic.
Someone making his Proms debut this year is VÃkingur Ãlafsson. He has burst onto the scene for the past two or three years and has worked exceptionally hard for the past 20 years, but has recently won numerous awards. When he entered the studio three years ago, he was just lovely, sharing photos of his newborn baby. And then he sat down at the piano and played Bach, it was just a tingling moment in the back. I can’t wait to hear him play the Proms.
Meal your husband has prepared for you
John made a simple sage and butter paste the other day, the simplest thing but simply delicious. I’m afraid to think about the amount of butter and Parmesan cheese in it.
He is now a very good cook, but that was not always the case. We’ve been together for a very long time and he has learned so much. He’s always been very interested and has a good palate, but the first time he cooked for me it involved a pot of Chicken Tonight.
Way to relax
These days I get my hands dirty in the garden. I don’t listen much when I’m outside, I know people are catching up on books and podcasts, but I love the silence and what happens in the trees. I spend as much free time as possible growing stuff. It’s just a really beautiful, therapeutic, and beautiful, tangible thing to do. I have found this to have been my solace and my escape over the past year and a half and even before that. This is where I disconnect.
There have been a few. There was a time when I said the next news was five hours before sex, which I thought no one noticed, but everyone reported it in the papers. Then there was the famous photo of Lucian Freud, who broke records with the auction house, a nude of a woman called Big Sue.
We were interviewing her and there was an error in the research notes and I called her Fat Sue live on air. She wasn’t very happy with it. I apologized immediately, but it was not my moment of glory.
There were a number of outrageous moments on Strictly; I refer you to my cha-cha-cha. The problem is, with live streaming, the audience gives you some leeway when things go wrong, because obviously they do.
Your job is to minimize these things and iron them out. The more you do, the more skillful you become, but there’s no way you can have a career in live streaming without them.
Piece of news you’ve already had to report
I was a news anchor for 12 years and there were wars and 9/11, terrible accidentsâ¦
When I returned from maternity leave for the first time, there were some horrific child murders. And the Beslan school massacre, the most gruesome and difficult story for everyone to cover. You have to be professional of course, but then you could go home and think about it and have a little blub.
One thing about being a mom