Sonia Deol: My Life In Media

Sonia Deol, 32, is the BBC Asian Network's breakfast presenter, having taken over the show last month. The station began life in 1976, as a show on BBC Radio Leicester, before broadening its reach across the Midlands. Deol joined the station a decade ago, before it went national in 2002. Earlier this year, the BBC announced an extra £1m of funding for the network, which broadcasts in English and South Asian languages, in an effort to make British- Asian interests "a mainstream part of the corporation's output". Deol has just moved from London back to Edgbaston in Birmingham, where she grew up.

What inspired you to start a career in the media?

I'd love to have a really good story but the honest answer is, I don't know. All I remember is making pretend programmes at home while I was still at school, and boring my friends to death about being a presenter with my own show one day.

When you were 15, what was the family newspaper and did you read it?

A great talking newspaper: my gran! We had no choice but to listen to it. Other than that, weekend papers such as The Times were the only ones I saw, usually to be found beside the lavatory.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Spitting Image has to be up there as a huge growing-up favourite. I loved Jonathan Ross on The Last Resort, Clive Anderson Talks Back and Have I Got News For You. I was a Radio 1 child, loved Steve Wright, fancied Gary Davies, and Simon Bates's Our Tune scarred me. Hearing sob stories when you're 10 forces you to grow up faster, doesn't it?

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

Now that I get up at the beautiful time of 3.30am, I tend to have Radio Five Live or TalkSport on, depending on how delicate my head is feeling, and, like most breakfast presenters, I skim through the main papers.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

My amazing production team is my first source. Then all the papers, and I find the BBC news website great for bitesize research.

What's the best thing about your job?

My programme boss, Jonathan Aspinwall. Naturally, he is talented and gifted, but the real reason is that he is just so good-looking and cute. He makes getting up this early in the morning something I look forward to every day.

The worst thing about your job?

My social life is slowly dying. I have to go to bed earlier for the breakfast show. Great for a single girl...

What are the proudest achievements in your working life?

Co-hosting an awards ceremony with the then BBC director-general Greg Dyke; giving The Sun its front-page headline after meeting the Queen (I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and she replied "a nice sunshiny day"); and getting a Sony bronze for my old phone-in show. Now, in the immortal words of Henry Kelly, we are "going for gold"!

Your most embarrassing moment?

I was interviewing the Bollywood star Dharmendra and the phone lines went mad with people trying to get through. One caller who made it on air sounded strangely familiar. I slowly realised that it was my mother. She had sneaked through with an alias. When I pointed it out, she denied any genetic connection. It was very painful.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Bobby Friction on Radio 1, on the one night that he's not on our station. Jonathan Ross at the weekend on Radio 2. And Magic FM for those calmer moments.

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

News of the World, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday and Observer. I tend to buy about four or five weekend papers, and I'm a girlie girl, so Cosmo, Marie Claire and Asiana all get a look-in.

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

Be bigger than Moyles - in show, not size.

If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?

I'd apply to be on The Apprentice. A good salary, a polite boss, what more could a girl want? Oh damn, I'm not blond.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Jonathan Ross. Yes, I admit, as a teenager I thought him cute. But as a broadcaster, he's been in this game so long, but hasn't lost his energy, warmth and humour.

The CV


Joins the fledgling Asian Network, a regional station in Leicester


Presents BBC2's Network East for three years


Moves to the capital to join BBC London radio as a drivetime and news presenter, just as the Asian Network is shifting its focus from the Midlands to the whole country


Rejoins Asian Network for its national launch on DAB digital radio, presenting her own phone-in show


Moves to the breakfast slot, on air from 6am to 9am every weekday

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas