When we were 17…


Debbie at 17 This week is our 17th birthday!  How time flies…

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!

Here are a couple of early publicity images…
Early publicity shot of Debbie Early publicity shot of Debbie

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!

Best wishes




  1. janet October 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm -  Reply

    Hi Debbie,
    you really haven’t changed and the black & white photo could be a recent picture of Lauren.
    pleased to hear that little one didn’t have to have an op just yet.
    Looking forward to the 17th birthday celebrations on QVC.
    Janet x

  2. rosie October 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm -  Reply

    hi debbie – my huuby went to morden farm middle school.seems terribly rude to ask your age – but my hubby is 41,so don’t know if you were together.My MIL still lives in the area and was a dinner lady at the school for 10 years whilst her 3 children attended.She has a lot of photos and is still intouch with a lot of mums and teachers.

  3. Pauline Johnson October 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm -  Reply

    Hi Debs you have had such a busy life,at 17 I was going with my future husband David we married when I was 18 and we are still together even though we have had a few hic ups along the way and 3 sons who are now all married with children,( now have 5 grandchildren) my life is so ordinary compared to yours,but I am happy and in good health. Love to speak to you, and read your blogs XXXXXX

  4. Susan October 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm -  Reply

    Hi Debbie,
    Lovely blog & wonderful photo of you at 17! It’s fabulous & you haven’t changed a bit!!! Just have to tell you I saw you the other night with your hair wavy & in a lovely purple top & you just looked so beautiful! It really suited you. I’m sure it’s a lovely feeling to know you have accomplished pretty much all of your dreams…and yuo’ve many more years yet to add new ones!!
    Take care & have a lovely weekend.
    Susan x

  5. debs flint October 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm -  Reply

    Hi Janet – yes people say that all the time about me and Lauren! I think she’s a lot prettier than I was tho! Bless her! How scary to look in the mirror and see your mother! Hang on a minute, I already do! 🙂

  6. debs flint October 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm -  Reply

    Rosie – thought someone would!
    I was a few years earlier than your hubby but he may remember my brothers – David and Derek Flint? My dad was the school caretaker so the dinner lady lady would almost certainly remember him if she was there prior to 1982?
    Small world!
    ps if she’s got any old pics of school that’d be fab to get some on email! or via facebook!

  7. debs flint October 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm -  Reply

    Pauline – when I come back in another life I’ll aim to be like you!! It was always the plan but it takes two as they say! Congrats and thanks again!

  8. debs flint October 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm -  Reply

    Susan – thank you! I liked the ‘yogi’d’ hair! Will have to try it again sometime myself eh! 🙂 And you can bet I’m not short on the list of ‘dreams-to-be’, don’t worry! What are yours?

  9. Martin Doe October 12, 2010 at 9:29 am -  Reply

    Hi Debs,
    You won’t believe this, but I recently found myself surfing the TV channels late one night, when I heard a voice (and a laugh!) that I just knew was you, even though I couldn’t at that moment see who it was. Once heard, never forgotten, huh? 😉
    So, with a request for you to forgive me for not being a QVC devotee, and for knowing that you had returned to the fold, I promised myself that I would soon get in touch in a way that would take you by total surprise. This blog, and particularly the subject of being 17 years old, seemed to be the perfect opportunity!
    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost pictures of these wonderful days in a fire; I know how you feel, as I lost many pictures and other personal effects in a flood not so long ago. Sadly, I now have hardly anything depicting my first 30-odd years of life, and the people I knew in those days. Still, I have my memories, besides which it wasn’t that long ago, (was it really ** years?), so everything is still fresh in my mind.
    However, it all means that I probably no longer have anything that may be of use to you, but I will check for sure, and I’ll let you know.
    Having originally done the BSkyB Tour with you many moons ago, it seems that I may now miss out on a coffee, a chat, and a QVC tour; I just need to find a photo….somewhere! In the meantime, and if the need arises, feel free to get in touch, or drop me a mail address to reach you by – I’m not usually one for forums (or would that be “fora”, or even “forae”?), plus I am seemingly the only person in the world who is not on Facebook.
    Anyway, keep up the good work – you’ve still got the X-Factor! 😉

  10. debbie flint October 13, 2010 at 1:37 am -  Reply

    Haha! You certainly did surprise me Martin Doe! For any of my regulars, Martin was my boyfriend at the time I looked like the pic in this blog! lol.
    Martin – can you kindly call the main reception and give Sharon the receptionist (my mate) your contact info to email me and I’ll get in touch! Has your mob no changed then? It’s been so long since we’ve been in touch! The main tel no is 0207 705 5600. Love to the family! And of course the tour’s still up for grabs – tho knowing you it’ll be hard to fit it into your tight schedule! How old’s your son now? My two are 23 and 21!

  11. Mary Surridge December 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm -  Reply

    hi Debs,
    nice to see you back, I have been watching QVC, nearly from the beggining and I do so much so the has a permenant imprint of some QVC offer on my telly which won’t go away. I was dissapointed when you left QVC but glad to see you back. I like listening to you, you’re very professional and pleasant voice to listen to.
    Mary x

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