Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Zoe Salmon, former Blue Peter presenter and Dancing on Ice contestant

'I got a C once – I was devastated!'


Zoe Salmon, 29, who took a year out of her student career to win Miss Northern Ireland, is competing in ITV1's 'Dancing on Ice'. She is launching energy company nPower's Little Green Fingers campaign for four- to seven-year-olds. Its schools competition to win 50 solar-powered "eco greenhouses" closes on 13 March (www.npower. com/littlegreenfingers).

I'm embarrassed because I got driven to Kilmaine Primary in Bangor, County Down – half a mile. The most un-green thing! I didn't even know what the environment was until I was 15.

I was very well-behaved. I was never even asked to leave the classroom for 10 minutes. I was called "the smiler" by the teachers, who thought I was up to something. But I never was; I was just being polite. The first award I won was when I was 10, for handwriting. (My older sister won all the handwriting cups. She studied typography and created her own font.)

I got the 11-Plus at Grade 1 and went to Glenlola Collegiate, the big grammar-school for girls in Bangor. I loved it. You felt like a grown-up: you had to walk to classes by yourself – without a teacher – and do new subjects. Maths and science were my weaknesses but I never got less than As and Bs. I got a C once in my life – and the devastation of that! Then Mrs McCracken, our chemistry teacher, said that for the same piece of work I'd got an A for effort: yes! I got 10 GCSEs: three A*s, four As, three Bs, and a beautiful silver teapot for having the school's highest mark in home economics. My sewing was second to none. And I won a cake-decorating competition.

I loved Sixth Form. In my A-levels, I got an A in English literature, a B in geography and an A in home economics. I grew up in the era of LA Law and wanted to be a lawyer. I'm a bit of a thespian at heart, so the court would be my stage. We used to drive past Queen's University in Belfast, which is the most beautiful building; it screamed education and brilliance. I was impressed by the fact it was on every £5 note; it was where the clever people went and it was on my doorstep. I went up to Queen's at 18.

After the first-year exams I took my gap year and won Miss Northern Ireland. I got an amazing salary for going round the world doing catwalk shows. It would have been tempting to carry on, but I wanted the security of a career. I went back to university and got a 2:1.

In Northern Ireland, there was only one place you could study to become a lawyer, the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. They only take 95 entrants a year on the solicitors course from the UK. It's a case of sitting two three-hour exams. I couldn't believe it when I got straight in: it was the most clever I ever felt. I got a scholarship with a firm of solicitors and worked there during the vacation and one day a week in term. I had my own cases. I was ready to take on the world – but I decided to do that in London at Television Centre.

I miss the law. I use it all the time. When in a shop for a refund, I'm always reminding people of the 1974 Sale of Goods Act. And when I'm given my contracts, it's me who writes notes for the lawyers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks