Media: Blonde ambition

Mariella Frostrup has not only got her own prime time show on Channel 5 but intends to call all the shots

SHE IS deep-voiced, bold and occasionally bolshy, and she wants to publicise herself. So, three months ago, Mariella Frostrup formed her own production company, and, because names are a vital part of a brand's image, she called it Brazen Husky.

It was a smart move from a woman whose intelligence and guile have always sat uncomfortably with efforts by the tabloid press to categorise her as yet another, interchangeable, Met Bar blonde.

Ms Frostrup has, over the past few months, been in the news for an alleged romance with Chris Evans (false, say both sides), for being among the candidates to succeed Barry Norman on the BBC's Film 98 (still a possibility), and for being chosen to front a new Channel 5 talk show at prime time, 7.30 on a Friday evening - a big change from her last, Sunday-morning- with-hangover slot.

Almost overlooked, though, is Brazen Husky (chief executive and sole employee: M Frostrup), a machine through which she will be able to create and control her own brand.

At a time when television channels are proliferating and budgets on the big four are constricting, industry insiders agree that the importance of creating a coherent, saleable brand for yourself is becoming increasingly vital. "Look at the brands people like Noel Edmonds, Des Lynam and Chris Evans have built for themselves," says Mark Borkowski, a celebrity PR. "You know what you get with those names. You have to look at what you have, build on it, and recognise your weaknesses."

In her Portobello Road HQ, an airy studio with plenty of sofas and colourful coffee mugs, Mariella Frostrup is stretched out on a sofa, talking about her new company. "It's not empire building or a ginger, Planet 24-type thing," she husks.

The Irish-Norwegian takes a drag from one of many Marlboro Lights. Her new company, she says, is more to do with being a control freak. "It's to do with the culmination of eight years in TV. I've always written my own material and I wanted to start getting credit - or the blame, whatever."

Ms Frostrup refuses to identify her brand image - "it would mean thinking about myself for more than a minute, which I couldn't bear" she says, stalking to the kitchenette in search of another cigarette.

Soon, though, she does define herself, by default. "I've never been a bubbly blonde, I'm really bad-tempered," she says. "Women on TV are seen as interchangeable, whether they're newscasters, presenters or entertainment. And if you're blonde (which she isn't, quite: more mousy, as she's the first to admit) you get lumped together: a herd of cattle, a flock of sheep, a bunch of blondes. I think that's the word for it: a bunch."

And that is, partly, where the production company comes in. "There comes a point when you just want to control your own life. And people are less likely to come to you with a proposal for some sort of nonsensical drivel if you're known to be in charge of, writing and producing your own programmes.

"You have so much more control over what you do, from the guests down to the sofa fabric in the studio."

As a former bubbly blonde who has fought hard to be recognised for what she is - an intelligent and refreshingly natural TV presenter who happens to be an attractive woman - she is wary of anything to do with tabloid television. The plethora of new channels may give opportunities to people wanting to break in to the industry, "but unless you want to present a show for pounds 2.50, it's not something to do".

There is one proviso about the Mariella brand, though: asked if she would be where she is today if she didn't have a nice face, she replies instantly: "No. If I didn't have a nice face I would be respected but unemployed. That's an indictment of the sexism in the system."

Happy though she seems to be with Frostrup on Friday, which will see the customary array of guests being barked at charmingly and, she insists, unobtrusively, she hasn't managed to get complete control: "I'd never have chosen that name," she says with a genuine cringe. "I'm not the point of the show, the guests are."

Which points to an inherent contradiction in personality branding. Ms Frostrup says she sees herself as a journalist, a conduit between guest and viewer, her own experiences (she left school at 15 and her intelligence is of the streetwise kind) lending her a populist touch. But to succeed she has to be the point of the show, to prove to the powers paying her that the Mariella brand is both unique and essential, or else they could get someone else to do her job.

A publicist asked to "brand" Ms Frostrup once called her "the thinking man's crumpet" - which can describe anyone from Anna Ford to Francesca Annis. If Ms Frostrup succeeds in intelligently bringing the likes of Damien Hirst and Gilbert and George to the attention of people who would otherwise only have read about them in the tabloids - then she'll be a rare brand indeed.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
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.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?