Victoria Derbyshire: My Life In Media

'I'm genuinely surprised by the honesty, opinions and humour of our callers'
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The Independent Online

So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I did a bit on the university newspaper - film reviews, book reviews, that sort of thing - but all my friends thought what I wrote was crap, so I tried radio instead and applied to Lancs Poly (as it was then) for their radio & TV postgraduate journalism diploma.

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

My mum used to get the Daily Express delivered daily. She read it while drinking a whole bottle of Lucozade every morning in front of the Calor Gas heater. I never read it because I was only interested in Just Seventeen at that age.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Grange Hill, Coronation Street; the Radio 1 Breakfast Show (I particularly enjoyed Noel Edmonds), and on Sundays Jimmy Savile was always on at lunchtime as my family sat down for roast dinner. Sunday lunches, my parents arguing and Jimmy Savile are inextricably linked for me.

Describe your job

I come in with an idea about the programme, disagree with the producers and finally give in; then go on-air and listen to other people for three hours.

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

Depending on who gets to the radio first, the World Today on the World Service or Five Live Breakfast.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Guardian online, GMTV, Sky and all the papers... even the Mail.

What is the best thing about your job?

Being genuinely and consistently surprised by the honesty, opinions and humour of our callers.

And the worst?

People assuming they know how I vote or what I think.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I don't at all. The listeners and callers to the show do; MPs tell me they listen to the show to get a feel for what people are thinking, and one broadsheet executive told me he'd delay going to their morning conference so he could hear the first few callers on the programme.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Being asked to present the phone-in show on Five Live, and winning two Sony Golds for Five Live Breakfast with Julian Worricker.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Jonathan Ross on Radio 2, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on Radio 4, and Peter [Allen] and Jane [Garvey] on Five Live.

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

All the serious papers: Observer, News of the World, Telegraph and Mirror delivered. Most of the others (apart from the Mail) later in the day. As for favourite magazines, where do I start? In an average week I'll read Homes and Gardens, Marie Claire, Vogue, Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Spectator and Private Eye. Our local newsagent can retire on what I spend on magazines.

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

To host "Strictly Come Newsreading" where celebrities from the world of soaps, athletics and ballroom dancing compete to present Newsnight.

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

Be an interior designer or press officer for Sam Allardyce (not that he needs one).

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Brian Reade of the Mirror is the best columnist around; Derek McGovern in the Mirror because he doesn't take horseracing (or anything) too seriously; Jon Snow because of his forensic mind and polite demeanour ( I read his book lately and ended up admiring him even more); Martin Kelner, whose Guardian column is unmissable; and Ian Hyland and Jim Shelley for brilliant TV writing. Paul Hayward, formerly of the Telegraph, is one of the best sports writers but I think the Sun's football coverage is ahead of the rest. At the BBC, Mark Sandell of the World Service because he's a radio genius, and Ceri Thomas, my first editor on Five Live Breakfast who's one of the best. I particularly admire my current editor, Husain Husaini, because apart from being clever, he puts up with quite a lot of crap from me.

The CV

1994: After working as a reporter on Birmingham's commercial BRMB station, gets her big break with Victoria Derbyshire's Lunchtime Show on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio (CWR).

1995: Heads back north to present the breakfast show on BBC GMR in Manchester.

1998: Joins Five Live.

1999: The breakfast show, which she co-presents with Julian Worricker, wins Television and Radio Industries Club award for best radio programme.

2001: Wins a bronze in the Sony awards broadcaster of the year category.

2004: Starts presenting 9am-12noon show on Five Live.