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Victoria Derbyshire: The BBC radio presenter on snobbery at work, favela guns and the joy of bargain-hunting at 6am


If you only listen to Radio 4, you won't hear the diversity of Britain I've grown up working on Five Live [Derbyshire joined the BBC station in 1998] and I believe you will hear voices from the whole of Britain on our station, from both the presenters [Derbyshire is from Ramsbottom, Lancashire] and listeners. And we don't just look at things from a London-centric prism: an issue affecting people who only work and live in the Westminster area is seen totally differently in Wallsend.

I still experience snobbery at work There are people who won't give you the time of day because you are not on their grade or they look down on you because you don't sound like them. At some point they will be called up on it; you reap what you sow and it will come back to bite them.

Engaging with listeners is one of the beauties of Twitter If someone tweets me, questioning something I've said, I'll always have a conversation with them. But sometimes I get really vicious personal stuff, like, "You looked really ugly on Newsnight last night," and then I have to ignore it; if you're on radio or TV you expect it to a certain extent.

Alcoholism is an illness There was this alcoholic doctor who contacted the show on the day that she was checking in to rehab, and while she and I were conversing on air she was drinking. I could hear her filling her glass with a tin of Guinness as she gave this halting, visceral description of the depths to which she had sunk, which had led her to want to share experience with millions of people, and it was profoundly moving. We've actually kept in touch; she is a lot better now, but alcoholism is a constant process of managing the illness.

Wandering around Rio's favelas was a real shock I went to Brazil in November for a story about the World Cup, and I saw teenage boys drifting around in shorts and flip-flops with guns slung on their shoulders and handguns tucked into their shorts, marking out territories. Yet the atmosphere was calm and relaxed, with toddlers running around, mums with their kids. I don't think I would ever acclimatise to that.

Never giving up is part of my personality It's something I try to instil in my two young boys, whether it's pursuing a dream or chasing down an opponent in a football match. When I was a teenager I really wanted to do work experience on [BBC2's] The Clothes Show, so for three years every single month I wrote a letter to them, in different languages – Spanish, French… Eventually I got a call one day from the producer and I got to work there during London Fashion Week.

Everything my mother has done for me over the years, I now want to do for her Your relationship with your parents reverses as you get older, and now I want to take her out for dinner and just be there for her. My stepdad died five years ago and though it was a traumatic event for all of us, she has adjusted slowly to the loss of her husband, and my brother, sister and I have been supporting her every day since.

Bargain-hunting is a joy I love wandering around antiques markets at 6am before the other punters get there. I could spend hours doing that in the pouring rain, because I find it really peaceful. I recently bought a scuffed old Victorian school cupboard from an old school house; it's tall, thin and fantastically sturdy, and we use it as a toy cupboard for my boys.

Victoria Derbyshire, 45, is a journalist and broadcaster who presents the morning weekday current affairs and interview programme from 10am to 12pm on BBC Radio 5 Live, which celebrates its 20th birthday this month