Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Fiona Bruce put her Rear of the Year award to good use'

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The Independent Online

Who knew that Fiona Bruce modelled for Jackie magazine photo love stories? This is surprising because Fiona is surely a bit of a head-girl type and not someone you would think was given to snogging, sobbing and communicating via the medium of the speech bubble. And yet there she was, in one typical week struggling to choose between outgoing Pete and his rival suitor, the painfully shy Eddie. We learn in late breaking news, if 30 years after the event still qualifies as late, that she plumped for the latter.

Perhaps it was a classic case of opposites attracting, Fiona never seeming too crippled by bashfulness. Yet there was a time, somewhere between outgrowing her days as poster girl for teenage romantic angst and growing into her role as the queen of the BBC newsroom, when she went into some kind of purdah.

"In my twenties," she once confessed, "I was virulently opposed to anyone commenting on my appearance." She has recovered from this, something to which her recent interviewee and flirting victim, Prince Philip, could attest, but a hobby, ("It is not a hobby," argues Fiona, "It is a way of life") she has never outgrown is feminism; the passion that led her to launch an anti-pornography campaign as a blue-haired punk at Oxford University.

Feminism comes in many guises, of course, and while not everyone can be a firebrand Germaine Greer type, neither can we all emulate Fiona by appearing on Children in Need in fishnets.

But then you don't win Rear of the Year, an accolade Fiona accepted with perfectly-judged wry amusement, and not put the title to excellent use. She is no air-brained auto-cutie and while appearing in Jackie could well have brought her closer to David Cassidy, she was too clever to ever take up with a twice-divorced pop star.

"I had been looking for a Saturday job as my mum had told me to get off my backside," she said of the Jackie engagement. And off her backside she certainly got. She remains off it today, reading the news from the standing position that allows her to bedazzle male viewers with those oddly intimate hand movements. Perhaps they are a hangover from her early photo-love technique.