My Life In Media: The One Show's Christine Bleakley
'You have a split second to get tone, questions and all the rest of it right. You can't redo live performances'
Monday 22 September 2008
Christine Bleakley, 28, is Adrian Chiles's co-presenter on The One Show, the BBC lunchtime magazine show. She was born and raised near Belfast and gave up a politics degree to take a position with BBC Northern Ireland. Performing runs in the family; her father is a drummer who has worked with Van Morrison and was managed by Louis Walsh. She is taking part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing and has been partnered with Matthew Cutler, who won last year's show with Alesha Dixon.
What inspired you to embark upon a career in the media?
I have no idea, but from a very young age all my make-believe games revolved around pretend television programmes. I was never in front of the camera. I was always the one in control behind the scenes. I asked for a video camera for Christmas one year so I could record my "programmes" and I'm not in any of them. You can just hear me bossing my sister about or whoever else I'd coerced into playing TV with me.
When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?
There were always loads of newspapers round the house. The Belfast Telegraph was always one of them and The Newtownards Chronicle. They actually phoned me for an interview just now – a very proud moment for me. I always read them. Our politics in Northern Ireland were very full on at that time and I was fascinated with who was saying what.
What were your favourite TV/radio programmes?
I've always loved comedy. Billy Connolly was a favourite. As a kid I loved Kenny Everett. That thing where he swung his legs around made me howl. I hated most kids' programmes, actually, though I loved Anne of Green Gables and I can still recite long sections of it. The radio was all about music and was mainly on Radio One.
What are the media sources you turn to first in the morning?
Television. I'm addicted to rolling news. I switch between BBC Breakfast, Sky News and GMTV.
Describe your job.
I present The One Show with Adrian Chiles. We get in at lunchtime and go through the script, looking at whatever VTs we'll be running and the biogs of whichever guest we have on. It's nerve-wracking, but incredibly exciting for me. Adrian is prone to slipping into very dark moods as transmission approaches and I consider it part of my job to get him out of it before he drags everyone else down with him. It doesn't help with West Brom being back in the Premier League and losing most weekends!
Do you consult any media sources during the day?
I flick through most papers and the television's on BBC News 24 in our office.
What do you tune into when you get home?
E4, mainly. It's the best way of tuning out of what I've had to be tuned into all day.
What is the best thing about your job?
The excitement of doing a live show never pales and the people I work with are great. I hardly knew anybody in London when I came over a year ago and my colleagues are now almost family to me.
And the worst?
I love long lunches and lost afternoons. When you're live on the telly at 7pm five nights a week, they're a thing of the past.
How do you feel you influence the media?
I don't think I influence anything personally, although I suppose the unexpected success of The One Show must have had some effect on the industry's thinking.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire?
At the moment all I want to do is get through Strictly without making a complete fool of myself. I'm so scared. A repeat of the Children in Need near-calamity is a real possibility.
What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?
I pick up the The Sunday Times, The Observer and The News of the World. I also really love Grazia and I'm partial to a bit of Hello! and Heat. And I think some of the writing in Vanity Fair is excellent.
What's the proudest achievement in your working life?
Just doing what I'm doing on The One Show, but if I can nail the salsa on Strictly, that will come a very close second.
And what's your most embarrassing moment?
Sparing you the details, I very nearly did a Paula Radcliffe in the London Marathon at Children in Need Northern Ireland a few years ago. I might have entered television history that night, but I doubt it would have done my career much good.
What would you do if you didn't work in the media?
I'd like to fly helicopters. Air ambulance or air-sea rescue or something like that.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
Gloria Hunniford. She came from a relatively humble background in Northern Ireland and quickly established herself here and, despite everything life's thrown at her, she's still going strong at the top of her game. And, to my delight, on the couple of occasions I've met her, she's turned out to be a really decent person too.
2000: Takes a position as a BBC floor manager
2001: After turning down presenting work twice, agrees to try her hand in front of the camera on a trial basis
2002: Begins presenting the Children in Need show with Eamonn Holmes, which she has now done six times
2003: Begins weekly entertainment show First Stop, interviewing celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie
2004: Gets her own show Skyhigh, which she presents from a helicopter
2005: Co-hosts reality show Looking for Love
2007: Gets The One Show
2008: Takes part in Strictly Come Dancing
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