Peaches Geldof: Peaches and teens

As the daughter of Bob and Paula, Peaches Geldof understands the perils of celebrity. But she still wants a career in showbiz. Jonathan Margolis meets the 16-year-old as she makes her TV debut
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The Independent Online

It really is, like, SO not fair. I am this guy of, like, a HUNDRED, and I'm sitting in a hotel lobby waiting and waiting and waiting to interview this girl who's, like, JUST 16. I mean only a few weeks older than my own youngest DAUGHTER.

It really is, like, SO not fair. I am this guy of, like, a HUNDRED, and I'm sitting in a hotel lobby waiting and waiting and waiting to interview this girl who's, like, JUST 16. I mean only a few weeks older than my own youngest DAUGHTER.

And it's wrong on, like, a MILLION levels. Like, I wouldn't even give a crap if she wasn't Bob Geldof's daughter, and if she didn't have a crazy name like PEACHES. And if she hadn't just got her own TV documentary coming out. And if she wasn't just so NICE and CLEVER. Which makes it, like, even more ANNOYING.

Peaches Geldof, 16 last month and with her GCSEs next month, already writes for the newspapers. And her documentary, airing on Sky next week is really quite good, thanks in no small part to great direction, research and camera work, which with the best will in the world, isn't down to Peaches.

But it's equally valid to ask what the heck the girl is supposed to do. She has the benefit of astonishing parents - not just Geldof, everyone's choice for dad (or at least celebrity dad) of the century, but the late Paula Yates too, who before she went off the rails, was a brilliant, original mind, a terrific popular journalist and, by her kids' account, a storybook mum to boot.

Genes and parental example aside, Peaches also has money, education, personality, charm, strength of character, talent and contacts, which have combined to make her a really special little human being.

Would it be less lazy documentary making on Sky's part and less idle journalism on mine deliberately to overlook Peaches and give the documentary and the media lionisation instead to an unknown kid? Absolutely. And would anyone watch it or read the article? Not really, no. So, yes, Peaches Geldof is damned if she stays in the shadows and damned if she doesn't. For what it matters; as I later bet her 50p, 30 years from now, she'll be more famous than Bob.

She is sitting cross-legged on the sofa when I am ushered into the hotel room by a Sky PR lady. ("You understand you're not to ask any questions at all about Bob or Paula," she says.) Peaches is artfully messy, in ripped jeans, wrist bangles, tongue stud and incredibly expensive-looking long, blonde highlighted hair. In the time-honoured manner of smart London teenage girls, she has Biro-ed notes scribbled all over her right hand (she's left-handed so she can do that).

The first thing that strikes you about Peaches is that she looks an exact cross between Bob and Paula, which is no surprise, I guess. The second thing also shouldn't be a surprise but is. She has a cut glass accent rather than her old man's Dublin or her mum's Estuary. I mean she would have a Chelsea accent, wouldn't she, being brought up in Chelsea and all, but, especially as I knew her mum a bit, Peaches' voice still seems to be coming weirdly from somewhere else.

She is also disarmingly mature and professional, evidence her almost spooky poise in front of a TV camera. I get out a little lapel microphone for my tape recorder and, unasked and unremarked, Peaches removes her big clunky necklace, which would interfere with the recording, of course, and fixes the mike just so. Later, when she gets up to go to the loo, she remembers to take it off first. Ninety nine per cent of all known interviewees would have stood straight up and dragged the recorder off behind them.

Now here's another thing that concerns me as we're doing the pleasantries bit. I've just asked what her friends call her, because however many times you try it, calling someone Peaches doesn't quite work. "Er, just Peaches," she says. "Although some of my friends call me Peach. I don't have, like, a nickname like Peachey or anything weird like that. That's quite sad, isn't it?"

We talk first about the most striking part of Peaches' film, a segment filmed in Bolton, where she goes to hang out with a group of teenagers whose only leisure activity on a Saturday night is gathering at a bus stop and eating chips. She is visibly horrified by their noisy misbehaviour. "I've not experienced anything like this," she says quite spontaneously on camera. "I mean you don't have any respect."

"It wasn't nearly as bad in the film as it really was," Peaches says. "They were really, really wild, fighting, going crazy with the claustrophobia and emotion. The reason I was shocked by that was that before I'd been speaking to these girls who I had permission to hang around with in their house. I asked them why they keep being threatened with Asbos when they kept telling me they don't do anything wrong.

"And they'd been saying that people were intimidated because they hang out in a pack, and that really the boys get a bit giddy around the summer but that it's fine. So I said, OK, so you don't make any noise or anything? And they were, like, well, not really. So I was, like, OK. Then when we actually got there, there were just so many people and they were drinking and banging on the bins and running round. It was like something from Lord of the Flies.

"I thought they'd be just sitting around quietly having chats at the bus stop. The girls were very apologetic and saying, please, this doesn't usually happen, they are loud, but they're really playing up to the camera. We left after about an hour because the police came and they all ran off.

"I didn't want them to think of me as this posh London girl from Chelsea who has no idea. And no one seemed to have any problems with me being there with my upper-class accent and the way that I dress and look and the background. They didn't care at all. But on the other hand, they were being incredibly rude to the people who live there. I wouldn't want to live with 40-odd teenagers going crazy outside my door.

"But what I feel angry about, still, is their situation. I can see how claustrophobic it gets in a small town with nothing to do except hang out at a bus stop at night and bang on bins. That shocked me more than them being yobs or whatever. They have literally nowhere to go. The council had promised them that they could have a youth club, which they said they would definitely go to. But they hadn't.

"I've lived in London all my life, and I'm such a London girl, in the epicentre of everything, where there's theatre, museum, clubs and like a Starbucks on every corner. And they live with this stark reality of having nothing to do. I still can't, even after making this, begin to comprehend what that must be like. They feel so bored inside, they have to kind of show it. All this threatening them with Asbos just seems hypocritical when it's the council's fault. To me, them being there every night seems like a protest march. A protest against not having something that's been promised to them."

Earlier in her travels in search, nominally, for the contents of the teenage mind, she meets a neurologist who explains that the frontal lobes of teenagers' brains - the bits concerned with emotions, planning, risk assessment and decision making - aren't yet fully developed, and this explains their quest for novelty and restless impulsiveness.

Peaches seizes on this as an explanation for what she believes is her own ditziness. "Now, dad, you can't be horrible to me because my brain's not fully developed."

Later there is a funny sequence where she visits a group of worryingly wholesome environmentalist teenagers in Brighton who spend their leisure time clearing litter from a park. It's slightly cruel of the director to have alighted upon some of the soggiest greens on the planet, and for Peaches then to have concentrated her interviewing on Jonathan, the limpest lettuce leaf among them.

"My dad and my sister really freaked out that Jonathan was 16. They thought he was 40. I did. He was very political and upright. It was quite scary in a way. But I thought he was really nice and quite funny and clever.

"But what was great about those people was that they didn't give a crap about anybody thinking they were geeks, because they had their little picking-up-rubbish community and that's all they really cared about, even though this wood was, like, the size of this room, so when they thought they were helping the environment, actually they weren't. It was just picking up rubbish in something like someone's garden. But they have each other and they think the people that call them losers are losers themselves, and I think that's cool, even though I would never give up my half term to go picking up rubbish. It would kill me to do that. I would feel so lame. Being a teenager is not about picking up rubbish but having fun."

What about the celebrity daughter thing, I wonder? "I don't think you can say I'm exploiting being well known. I'm not well-known just because I've written a couple of articles for a broadsheet and I've got a magazine column and made a documentary. Look, what my father did was really amazing but I don't want to be just another celebrity daughter."

"Peaches Geldof: Inside The Mind of a Teenager" is on Sky One on 25 April