Secretarial: I Work For...: My boss is a low-maintenance celebrity

Monica Patel is pa to Trisha Goddard, presenter of the daytime ITV chat show `trisha'

A YEAR ago I would been horrified at the idea of working in TV. I was involved in the arts as a stage manager and administrator for a black theatre group and, used to scrimping and saving, saw TV people as having more money than they knew what to do with. I never wanted to be a media bimbo. But five months ago I got frustrated by the theatre's emphasis on bums on seats, and applied for a job at Anglia.

I made it clear at the interview that I wanted the job to be mutually beneficial to us both - I would bring skills while learning new ones. Initially I was attracted by the admin aspect but the production and the technical side soon fascinated me. I was employed as a programme coordinator but during my first week Trisha's PA was promoted and I was given her job.

After the upheavals around Vanessa Feltz's sudden departure from ITV, it was a challenge for all of us. I quickly saw how hard people work for their money. Although I hadn't seen Vanessa, or any of the other daytime talk shows, I was aware of their importance. Trisha is very different from a Vanessa or a Jerry Springer type. She seems a little more human to me. She never acts like a celebrity in the office; she's just plain Trisha, and no one suddenly stands to attention when she arrives. When we work late, so does she.

Her personality hasn't changed since she became famous; she will still take her children for a burger down the high street. She's also very much part and parcel of the Norwich community. Bizarrely, Trisha can walk through reception and none of the audience will recognise her until she's in the studio. She is a low-maintenance celebrity to work for, because she's very self-sufficient.

I see little of her personal life because she doesn't rely on anyone to look after her children or her domestic life. The fact of working with an Afro-Caribbean woman makes me feel not exactly smug, but pleased. Norwich isn't a great ethnic capital and I think that Trisha and I are the only two black women within this building. She was in LA the other day and Whoopi Goldberg told her it was great to know that a sister was doing so well.

Most of my day is spent working on shows, liaising with the producers, booking guests for the show, organising travel and hospitality and processing invoices. Like everyone in the team, I always have my eye out for stories. I will never read the Sunday papers in the same way again. I also help Trisha with the enormous amount of correspondence we get from viewers seeking her advice. She tries to answer every one. People relate to her own experiences, including her personal tragedies, because they are important to the way she presents. She knows about deaths and suicides and as an experienced counsellor she can take it all on board. Whoever talent-spotted her knew what they were doing.

Both Trisha and her audience are genuine; there is no acting involved. We don't force people on to the show; it's always something they want to do. Trisha will talk to guests after the show and give them advice, and she also takes notes home and discusses them with her husband. Some guests have terrible life stories, which are distressing. I often wonder how Trisha deals with it. I know she drinks masses of peppermint tea to relax, and offers it to the guests. She also laughs a lot with the team; we need to see the funny side of life.

While the programme is being broadcast the phones don't stop and we have to be ready with a response because people will call about anything - from wanting to contact the guests to complaining about the colour of Trisha's shirt. We also frequently get calls from people who claim to be old friends of Trisha's from Australia. But we have every respect for our viewers because these are the people we rely on. I now know that audience numbers are as important in TV as in the theatre.

I also work for our editor, Sally-Ann Howard, who is much more high-maintenance than Trisha because her work load is huge and she's in constant touch with people such as Dianne Nelmes, controller of daytime ITV. Sally-Ann and I are very close; she uses me both as a sounding-board for ideas and as a means of monitoring the morale of her staff. She's also sympathetic when you are having the odd hormonal moment. It's good to be working for so many strong women. I think I've always been confident in my abilities to work hard and succeed but I wasn't always so confident about bosses; however, working with Trisha and Sally-Ann has been a joy. I don't think Trisha would ever say that the success of the programme was solely down to her; she knows that it's about team magic. I'm off soon to explore new pastures and try out TV drama, and I'd also like to resume my work as a storyteller. But it will be a real wrench to leave. I would recommend this job to anyone.

Interview by Katie Sampson

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice