QUICK-FIRE FIONA

Woman & Home - - The Real Me -

MY BIG­GEST ACHIEVE­MENT? HAV­ING A HAPPY FAM­ILY. WITH­OUT A DOUBT. WHAT KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT? LO­GIS­TICS. “WHERE DO I HAVE TO BE TO­MOR­ROW?” I’M NOT A GOOD SLEEPER. MY MOST TREASURED POS­SES­SION?

MY EN­GAGE­MENT RING, WHICH BE­LONGED TO MY GRAND­MOTHER. AS A CHILD, I WOULD SIT WITH MY MUM AND PLAY WITH HER JEW­ELLERY AND ASK, “CAN I HAVE IT ONE DAY?” SO IT RE­MINDS ME OF HER.

HAVE I EVER BEEN AR­RESTED? NO, BUT VERY NEARLY AT GREENHAM COM­MON! I WAS PROTEST­ING AND WAS ASKED IF I WAS PRE­PARED TO BE AR­RESTED. AND I THOUGHT, “OH, I’M NOT QUITE READY FOR THAT.” SO I JUST LINKED ARMS IN A RATHER WET WAY! MY GUILTY PLEA­SURE? DOES Poldark

ON A SUN­DAY NIGHT COUNT? IF SO, THAT’S IT. ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE ABOUT MY LIFE? IT WOULD BE MY HAIR! I’D LOVE TO GET UP IN THE MORN­ING, AND FOR MY HAIR TO LOOK LIKE IT DID BE­FORE I WENT TO BED. IT’S RIDICU­LOUSLY FRIV­O­LOUS, I KNOW!

1990S, I WAS A RE­PORTER ON A RE­GIONAL CUR­RENT AF­FAIRS SHOW IN THE SOUTH EAST. MY CON­TRACT WASN’T BE­ING RE­NEWED

UN­TIL SEPTEM­BER SO I HAD THREE MONTHS WITH­OUT WORK. I OF­FERED TO FILL IN FOR SOME PRE­SENT­ING SHIFTS. I WASN’T GREAT – I’D BE WEAR­ING TH­ESE HUGE EAR­RINGS THAT WOULD BE TREMBLING ALONG WITH ME ON CAM­ERA. BUT PEO­PLE WITHIN THE BBC NO­TICED,

AND I STARTED GET­TING MORE SHIFTS. I WAS A CUR­RENT AF­FAIRS RE­PORTER AND WASN’T THINK­ING ABOUT BE­ING A PRE­SEN­TER. AT THE TIME IT WAS LIT­ER­ALLY A MEANS TO AN END.

TH­ESE DAYS, EVEN WITH LIVE TELE­VI­SION, I TEND NOT TO GET TOO NER­VOUS. IF EV­ERY­THING AROUND ME IS FALL­ING APART, I CON­SCIOUSLY CLOSE MY EARS TO WHAT’S GO­ING ON, TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND

JUST RE­LAX. I RE­MEM­BER ONCE WE WERE BROAD­CAST­ING THE Six O’Clock News LIVE AT THE SYR­IAN BORDER. THE BIG­GEST DUST STORM IN A GEN­ER­A­TION BLEW UP JUST AS WE WERE ABOUT TO GO ON AIR. YOU COULD HARDLY SEE A THING: MY HAIR, THE EQUIP­MENT, EV­ERY­THING WAS THICK WITH DUST. I HAD TO JUST CARRY ON. I DO OC­CA­SION­ALLY HAVE TO COM­POSE MY­SELF READ­ING THE NEWS AF­TER EVENTS SUCH AS THE GREN­FELL TOWER FIRE, BUT WHILE I DON’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE A RO­BOT, I ALSO DON’T WANT MY EMO­TIONS GET­TING IN THE WAY OF WHAT I’M TRY­ING TO SAY.

LUCK­ILY, NO­BODY RE­ALLY SPOT­TED MY MOST EM­BAR­RASS­ING ON-AIR MO­MENT! PARTLY BE­CAUSE IT WAS IN THE DAYS BE­FORE SO­CIAL ME­DIA. I WAS PRE­SENT­ING THE NEWS

ONE SUN­DAY AF­TER­NOON WAIT­ING FOR THE CAM­ERA TO GO ON, LOOK­ING IN THE MIR­ROR AND FID­DLING WITH MY FRINGE. I DIDN’T HEAR THE ED­I­TOR SAY, “CUE.” AF­TER SEV­ERAL AT­TEMPTS, I FI­NALLY HEARD HIM SHOUTING, DROPPED THE MIR­ROR, AND STARTED

READ­ING THE NEWS. THIS WAS ALL LIVE

TO THE NA­TION! FOR­TU­NATELY, NONE OF THE BIG BOSSES WERE WATCH­ING.

LAST YEAR I BADLY BROKE MY FOOT TRAMPOLINING WITH MY DAUGH­TER AND COULDN’T WORK FOR A COU­PLE OF MONTHS. I WAS CHEWING MY ARM OFF IN FRUS­TRA­TION – I’M A VERY RESTLESS PER­SON AND FOUND SIT­TING DOWN FOR HOURS AND HOURS IN­CRED­I­BLY BOR­ING. I DID GET THROUGH Anna Karen­ina, THOUGH! AND WHEN I COULDN’T AC­TU­ALLY DO MY JOB, MY GOOD­NESS, IT MADE ME RE­ALISE AFRESH HOW MUCH I LOVE IT. I’M NOT COMPLACENT ABOUT MY SUC­CESS – IN MY PRO­FES­SION, IT CAN ALL VAN­ISH OVERNIGHT. BUT THAT’S THE NA­TURE OF THE BUSI­NESS.

IN NO SENSE HAVE I DREADED GET­TING OLDER. PER­SON­ALLY, I DON’T FEEL ANY PRES­SURE BE­ING A WOMAN OVER 50 IN TV, BUT ASK ME AGAIN IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME. I CER­TAINLY DON’T FEEL ANY MORE COM­FORT­ABLE IN MY SKIN THAN WHEN I WAS YOUNGER – I FEEL THE SAME.

PEO­PLE HAVE SENT ME THE STRANGEST THINGS THROUGH THE POST. AT ONE STAGE, SOME­ONE WAS SEND­ING TOP­SHOP SKIRTS – I’M NOT SURE WHY, BUT THEY WERE ALL VERY SHORT. AND IT DOESN’T STOP THERE. WHILE I WAS GIV­ING BIRTH TO MY DAUGH­TER – IN THAT HIA­TUS BE­TWEEN HUFFING AND PUFF­ING, GATH­ER­ING YOUR­SELF BE­FORE THE NEXT CON­TRAC­TION – A YOUNG WOMAN’S VOICE FROM DOWN AT MY FEET SAID, “THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE RIGHT TIME TO MEN­TION IT, BUT YOU’RE MY FAVOURITE PRE­SEN­TER!” I SAID, “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” AND CAR­RIED ON.

ON HAV­ING FUN

I CAN BE QUITE SE­RI­OUS-MINDED ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS, BUT WHEN­EVER THE OP­POR­TU­NITY PRESENTS IT­SELF, I LOVE LET­TING MY HAIR DOWN. I USED TO HAVE A COCK­TAIL BE­TWEEN THE SIX AND TEN O’CLOCK BUL­LETINS AT THE HO­TEL ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE BBC – ONLY ONE WITH THE TEAM; I’M A VERY LIGHT DRINKER. I HAVEN’T DONE THAT FOR A WHILE – I THINK I NEED TO RE­IN­STATE IT! RE­CENTLY, I WAS AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FES­TI­VAL WITH MY HUS­BAND AND A FRIEND WATCH­ING LIVE BANDS AT 3AM. I’M SLIGHTLY MORTIFIED TO SAY THAT I’D NEVER BEEN TO A FES­TI­VAL BE­FORE – IT WAS MY FIRST TIME AND IT WON’T BE MY LAST! I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE.

IT TAKES A WHILE TO THINK IT’S FINE TO

TOWER OVER PEO­PLE. I DIDN’T LIKE BE­ING SO TALL – I WAS 5FT 10IN – WHEN I WAS YOUNGER. I WAS AL­WAYS THE TALLEST IN CLASS, TALLER THAN ALL THE BOYS, AND IT FELT A BIT UN­COM­FORT­ABLE. IN MY TWENTIES, I DIDN’T RE­ALLY MIND TOO MUCH, THEN BY THE TIME I’D GOT TO MY THIRTIES, I AC­TIVELY LIKED IT. ONCE I PUT ON HEELS, I’M SIX FOOT. WHEN WE FILM An­tiques Road­show, I’M QUITE OF­TEN IN WEDGES AS WE’RE FILM­ING ON GRASS, AND I’LL BE TOW­ER­ING OVER PEO­PLE I’M IN­TER­VIEW­ING LIKE A GREAT DANE. IF IT’S RE­ALLY NO­TICE­ABLE, I TAKE MY SHOES OFF.

EV­ERY TIME I LOOK IN THE MIR­ROR, I SEE MY MOTHER. I USED TO THINK I LOOKED MORE LIKE MY DAD BUT, HON­ESTLY, YOU RE­ALLY DO GROW INTO YOUR MOTHER. SO I’M RE­MINDED OF HER CON­STANTLY. MY DAD EN­COUN­TERED MANY OB­STA­CLES IN HIS LIFE – HE CAME FROM GREAT POVERTY AND ENDED UP BE­ING A VERY SUC­CESS­FUL BUSI­NESS­MAN DUE TO HARD WORK AND IN­TEL­LI­GENCE. HE’S A TOUGH ACT TO FOL­LOW. I THINK I’VE IN­HER­ITED SOME OF

HIS DRIVE AND DE­TER­MI­NA­TION – I HOPE SO, ANY­WAY. MY MUM WAS JUST A LOVELY, LOVELY MOTHER. CON­STANT AND LOV­ING. I TRY TO BE AS GOOD A MOTHER AS SHE WAS – ALTHOUGH I’M SURE I FALL SHORT. SHE WOULD HAVE

BEEN RE­ALLY CHUFFED I DE­SCRIBED HER AS THAT – IT’S SUCH A SHAME SHE WON’T SEE IT.

I MISS MY PAR­ENTS TER­RI­BLY. MY MOTHER DIED OF CAN­CER IN 2011, AND THEN A YEAR LATER MY FATHER; THAT’S QUITE A RECKONING IN LIFE. YOU’RE NOW AT THE TOP OF YOUR FAM­ILY STRUC­TURE, AND THAT UN­CON­DI­TIONAL LOVE THAT ONLY PAR­ENTS CAN HAVE FOR THEIR CHIL­DREN – WELL, IT’S A BIG KNOCK WHEN IT’S GONE. FOR­TU­NATELY, I’M VERY HAP­PILY MAR­RIED

AND HAVE LOVELY CHIL­DREN OF MY OWN.

MIA’S 15 NOW, AND IT’S SO DIF­FER­ENT BE­ING A TEENAGER TO­DAY. THERE ARE CER­TAIN COM­MON THEMES SUCH AS IN­TENSE FE­MALE FRIEND­SHIPS – MY FRIEND­SHIPS FROM SCHOOL WERE in­tense, AND THAT’S WHY THEY’VE SUR­VIVED UN­TIL TO­DAY. THAT DOESN’T CHANGE. BUT NOW EV­ERY COUGH AND

SPIT OF SOME­ONE’S EX­IS­TENCE CAN BE DOC­U­MENTED ON­LINE, AND THAT’S PRETTY PRESSURISED. UL­TI­MATELY, YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR KIDS OFF SO­CIAL ME­DIA BUT YOU CAN AD­VISE THEM TO USE IT SEN­SI­BLY. ALTHOUGH IF YOU THINK YOU CAN GET A 15-YEAR-OLD TO LIS­TEN TO YOUR AD­VICE, THEN GOOD LUCK!

I KNOW IT MUST SOUND ABSURD BUT WE STILL HAVE A NANNY. CLARE HAS BEEN WITH US FOR 19 YEARS. OB­VI­OUSLY, WE DON’T RE­ALLY need A NANNY ANY­MORE, BUT SHE’S PART OF OUR FAM­ILY. FROM FE­BRU­ARY TO SEPTEM­BER, I’M WORK­ING A LOT, AND MY HUS­BAND WORKS A LOT TOO, AND IT’S RE­ALLY IM­POR­TANT FOR ME THAT SOME­ONE IS IN

THE HOUSE WHEN MIA COMES HOME FROM SCHOOL. PLUS I’M IN­CRED­I­BLY FOND OF CLARE!

THAT’S NOT TO SAY THAT I DON’T FEEL GUILTY AS A WORK­ING MOTHER, BUT I FEEL less GUILTY. THE TRADE-OFF FOR ME IS THAT IF

I’M GO­ING TO BE WORK­ING A LOT, MY SO­CIAL LIFE HAS TO BE VIR­TU­ALLY ZERO. BE­CAUSE OTH­ER­WISE I WON’T SEE MY FAM­ILY.

ON BE­ING HER­SELF

I USED TO COM­PARE MY­SELF TO OTHER PEO­PLE TOO MUCH. I THINK IT’S A COM­MON TRAP TO GET INTO. EAR­LIER ON IN MY CA­REER, I WOULD LOOK AT OTHER PEO­PLE AND THINK, “I NEED TO BE MORE LIKE THEM.” THEN MY HUS­BAND SAID, WHICH IS SO OB­VI­OUS, “YOU CAN ONLY BE WHO YOU ARE.” AND OF COURSE THAT’S TRUE OF ALL OF US. I HAVE STOPPED THINK­ING LIKE THAT FOR QUITE SOME TIME, AND IT’S DEF­I­NITELY A RECIPE FOR HAP­PI­NESS. I AM THE PER­SON I AM, AND THAT’S ALL RIGHT.

I TEND NOT TO GET TOO STRESSED, BUT IF I DO THEN I FIND RUN­NING IS HELP­FUL. A COU­PLE OF YEARS AGO, I WAS WORK­ING SO MUCH

THAT I FELT SLIGHTLY SUFFOCATED AND NEEDED TO FIND HALF AN HOUR TO RUN, TO FEEL I WAS MEN­TALLY ON TOP OF IT. WHAT I DID ALSO DE­CIDE WAS TO NOT GET MY­SELF IN THAT SIT­U­A­TION AGAIN BUT TO MAN­AGE MY TIME BET­TER AND NOT SAY “YES” TO EV­ERY­THING.

WHAT MAKES ME MORE IN THE MO­MENT THAN ANY­THING ELSE IS HORSE RID­ING. I’VE ONLY BEEN DO­ING IT FOR ABOUT FIVE YEARS AND I’M NOT VERY GOOD AT IT BUT YOU HAVE TO BE UTTERLY IN THE MO­MENT – AL­WAYS THINK­ING, “WHAT’S YOUR HORSE DO­ING? WHAT’S AHEAD?” I FEEL MORE AT PEACE DO­ING THAT THAN ANY­THING ELSE. THE OLDER I GET, THE MORE I WANT TO DO PHYS­I­CAL THINGS.

I’M NOT IN­TER­ESTED IN STUFF ANY MORE; I’M IN­TER­ESTED IN DO­ING THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY. BE­ING WITH MY FAM­ILY, AC­TIV­I­TIES THAT PUT ME IN THE MO­MENT – NOTH­ING MAKES ME HAP­PIER IN LIFE. W&H

AN­TIQUES ROAD­SHOW will mark its 40th an­niver­sary this au­tumn on BBC One

“I DIDN’T LIKE BE­ING SO TALL WHEN I WAS YOUNGER BUT BY THE TIME I’D GOT TO MY THIRTIES, I AC­TIVELY LIKED IT”

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