My Life In Media: Presenter Julia Bradbury

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The Independent Online

Julia Bradbury, 35, is the presenter of BBC1's Watchdog. She has presented the consumer affairs programme for two years alongside Nicky Campbell, and has previously appeared on Top Gear and the launches of both Channel 5 and Live! TV. Born in Ireland, Bradbury grew up in the UK and now lives in central London. She works with the British Heart Foundation to encourage people to exercise more.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I've always been fascinated with the media – at school I wanted to work in advertising or become a television reporter.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

The Daily Telegraph was my dad's paper, and yes I read it. I love to read and the talent to write well is one that I envy. Whatever your political persuasion, the broadsheets are a good read. The Sun is a good laugh, and there is a talent to creating those kinds of headlines – "When Did Liz Bang Bing?!" is one of my favourites.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

That's Life, Tiswaz, Dallas, In at the Deep End, Trouble Shooter, Tomorrow's World and Top of the Pops. Stupidly, my parents let me have a TV in my room. It wasn't just the content that interested me – it was how the programmes were made as well. Broadcast News and Network became favourite films early on. I love TV: the trash and the triumphant.

Describe your job.

I translate and interpret information, people and stories to the viewer. There is also a quantity of showmanship. The viewer has to trust you, and it's up to you to get the tone right. On Watchdog sometimes the most difficult thing is to remain impartial.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

BBC Breakfast if I'm at home, Radio 4 or Five Live Breakfast if I'm in the car. When I'm presenting for BBC London Radio 94.9, I like to listen in to all the stations to get a feel for the day's news and events. I enjoy listening to my colleague Nicky Campbell in the morning on Five Live because I think it reveals a completely different side to his character. I also need a music fix by mid-morning and Jo Whiley on Radio 1 normally sorts it.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

Yes, the internet – general news and entertainment sites, including BBC News, Al Jazeera, PopBitch and Facebook. I go to Radio 1 and 2 and Virgin for music relief. When I have a busy day, I miss not hearing and seeing all the news. You can be locked in a studio all day recording a programme and not know what's going on in the world. You pop out at the end of the day and feel like a dim-witted noodle.

What is the best thing about your job?

The variety and excitement. I have never been able to predict what I could be doing next year. In the past 18 months, I have flown with the Red Arrows, sang live alongside Tony Christie to millions and climbed a 200ft sea stack. It's not the most stable of careers, but it's not dull.

And the worst?

The inability to plan ahead. If you commit to a holiday or something social, the work opportunity or experience of a lifetime will come up – that programme you've been waiting to be involved in for the past year.

How do you feel you influence the media?

In very real terms, Watchdog makes a difference. As the only consumer affairs programme dedicated to the cause, we are the voice and power of the consumer. We have millions of viewers and receive around 6,000 or 7,000 letters a week. The stories we cover have a big impact. On the other hand, a programme like Wainwright Walks inspires people to get outdoors.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

This year, making it to the top of that sea stack, The Old Man of Stoer, in a BBC documentary called Ultimate Rock Climb. I had never rock climbed before and wasn't expected to make it without a fall. But I did.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

It wasn't really embarrassing, but when I was working for Janet Street-Porter at Live! TV, one of the shows I presented was Mind, Body and Soul. Lucian, our "dream analyst", and I took a call from viewer who'd had a dream about losing all his teeth. In all seriousness, Lucian suggested a trip to the dentist, and I fell about spluttering. The floor manager walked across shot, and my guest, the beauty expert Nadine Baggot, had to hold it together. It was all very Acorn Antiques.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

My favourite paper day of the week! News digest heaven. I take The Sunday Times, News of the World and The Observer. I can live off them for days. I'm not a huge fan of magazines – Vogue for the fashion, and I think GQ is tasty editorially. The Sunday Times Culture magazine is a must.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire?

Host a Star Trek convention with Miss Piggy, and take part in a comedy sketch with David Dimbleby.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Miss Piggy and David Dimbleby. Survival is everything.

The CV


Works on the launch of Live! TV before moving to Los Angeles as GMTV correspondent


Becomes the first presenter on Channel 5, hosting Exclusive!, an entertainment programme, with Tim Vine


Joins Watchdog as a presenter


Hosts Are We Being Served?, a consumer-affairs series


Appears as a contestant in Just The Two of Us, the celebrity singing show, and presents Ultimate Rock Climb, Wainwright's Walks and Crash, examining the consequences of dangerous driving