I joined in February 1994, on the same day as Jilly and Dave Bradford, a few months after Julia and co launched the new fangled shopping channel QVC. At the time we were partly owned by Sky, that’s why we took over the Marco Polo building, SW8, which they’d acquired three years previously when they merged with BSB, ence BSkyB!
I’d seen a programme about this phenomenon in the states and thought ‘I’d be good at that!’ And my colleague from Croydon Cable, Julia Roberts, helped point me in the right direction.
My audition involved ‘selling’ a pencil, and an item of our choice. I remember lining up with a lot of other would-be selly-telly hosts, many of whom had huge bricks of mobile phones, or hand-held digital address books/calculators, which could dial your number by making the right ‘beeps’ if you held it to a phone.
I think they thought that the more complicated the product, the easier it would be to fill six minutes talking about it! However, I remembered the old adage – Keep It Simple Stupid – which I’d learned in radio – (and which came up this week again on my writing course, funnily enough!).
Instead of opting for something which took ages to explain, I chose a tartan biscuit tin decorated with a Scottish man in a kilt, hurling a caber on a windy day! I’ve still got it somewhere. There wasn't much to talk about, so I had to be imaginative! There was a clever section in the lid to keep biscuits crisp, so that topic took up some of the audition time, and then came my payoff. As the count got to zero I ended by holding it up to look more closely, and said 'it’s just a shame it’s not 3D'.
Soon after I met Jilly and Dave, shadowed a few shifts and went on air with one item in someone else’s show. It was a fancy box of lead-crystal Irish coffee glasses. Now all these years later, here we are – 17!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’ve been some amusing pictures on air and possibly online, of some of the presenters when WE were 17. My one was taken when I was in some sort of Miss Pontin's competition or something.
I tried to find a better one, but I have very few of me when I was younger – sadly, mainly due to a garage fire ten years ago. In fact, if anyone anywhere knows me, or knew me, and has any pics, especially from Morden Farm Middle School or Willows High, do contact me on Facebook – I’d love to have copies! Or send them to me at QVC London SW84NQ. I’d be eternally grateful, and will treat you to a coffee and a chat at QVC Towers.
Back then, I was aiming to go to uni and be a chartered accountant. Well I did the first, started training for the second then branched off into radio then telly! My very first TV experience was being a contestant on Larry Grayson’s Generation Game – I had that cuddly toy for years!!
Then after a presenting course, I got a job at Screen Sport on cable TV, followed by a stint at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester. Radio helped get me obtain the experience I needed to not only work at CBBC, but also later came in very useful for talking and multi-tasking, skills vital to selly telly. I loved those early years, and being part of a brand new enterprise in the UK, which has gone from strength to strength over the years!
And now here we are all these years later. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of reminiscing on air over the weekend.
What were you doing at 17, and what was your dream? Did you fulfil it?
I know for me, my ambitions have been pretty much fulfilled in one sense or another. I feel very lucky to have done some of the jobs I’ve done in the media – and outside it. Now I’ve got a new ambition. When I’m a grown up, I want to be a writer!
Last week at the writing course
The course this week was fantastic; in fact, there’s so much to tell you I’ll get it all sorted for next week. For those interested in writing a novel, I’ll give you some links to different sites so you can find out more too!
And thanks to those who voted for my story on Romanceisnotdead.com – it was an honour to come high up the readers’ chart! And the independent judges chose a fabulous top ten stories from which the top four will be chosen by readers’ votes towards the end of October.
If you like romances, I’d be interested to see your comments on any you read. This week’s course was very timely. I found out what I didn’t know I didn’t know. Only problem with that is now I know it, no more no-no’s!
So enjoy our birthday weekend, congrats to Julia, who’s been here since the very start, and Julian (not long after), and I’ll bring you more next week!
P.S. Gracie didn’t have an op in the end, the specialist said her bones weren’t the right shape, so she’s got to go back when she’s a year and until then we just have to manage it carefully with walks on a lead, careful food management etc.
She stayed with Mum for a few days and came back fully toilet trained and very obedient! If you remember my blog about the Dog Listener, and what I said about mum, you’ll know why!
Now I just have to send Daisy the Devil along for some ‘tuition’ of the Lesley kind!