My greatest mistake: Amanda Platell

'A lot of people starting out on their careers don't realise how you can get stitched up'
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The Independent Online

The thing I regret throughout my career is not negotiating a better package for myself. The point is, I did not even know what a package was: I thought they were things you got sent from Australia at Christmas. One particular regret came when I was Marketing Director at the Mirror Group. I invented the scratch card interactive games for the paper. It was the most bizarre thing: after having a pile of operations, I was sick at home and dreamt it up just after they were launched with the National Lottery. It put millions of pounds' worth of profit into our company and rescued it at a bad time. But I didn't have any profit share, so everyone was making money except for me: some people made squillions. At that point I thought, "you're a bit silly".

The regret that makes me feel really embarrassed happened very early on in my career, when I was features executive of the now defunct newspaper Today. Someone rang me and said they were doing a lovely film about successful women in Fleet Street, and they'd like me to take part. I got really excited. I don't think I was even 30 by then and I was a year off the boat from Australia. I was so flattered: all I could think was that my mum and dad would love it, and I could send them the video.

As we filmed, their requests got greater and greater, but it all seemed fun. There was one scene where I had to walk into the office. They kept saying, "Oh, we didn't quite get it", and so I had to keep walking in and out, in and out. When I saw the film, all they used were my legs and my bosoms. And when they said, "Could you just lean over the desk?" you can guess what they were doing. Of course, the whole time they were lovely, and kept telling me that it was great, and that I was being so honest.

When it was all over, do you know what this nice sweet film about the really successful women was called? Killer Bimbos of Fleet Street. You can imagine what I felt. It had never occurred to me what it was going to be called. When I look back, I wonder how I could have made such a mistake. That programme became one of my tag names, and because it was the 1980s, I became known for shoulder pads that would whack people if you turned around too quickly, high-heels and big hair.

That programme was my biggest mistake, but I learnt a great lesson then. You can edit anything down to project a person in a certain way – so when I did the video diary [about the 2001 general election, when Platell was press secretary for the Tory party] I was very keen that I didn't do that to other people. As for me, I go by the saying, "film me once, shame on you – film me twice, shame on me". A lot of people starting out on their careers don't realise how you can get stitched up. Take my advice: never ever agree to do those things.

Interview by Clare Dwyer Hogg

Amanda Platell is a former editor of 'The Sunday Express' and spin doctor for the Conservative Party

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