In the third of my series of twenty-five blogs, one for each year of QVC UK’s existence, I thought I would remind you of some of the fashion jewellery brands we had on the channel in the early days, alongside our very successful fine jewellery shows. Actually, during the course of my research (i.e. searching through mountains of old paperwork), I discovered that Lesley Ebbetts, now a fabulous fashion guest, first appeared on QVC back in 1994 for a ‘Silver Style’ show! Who knew?
One of our earliest fashion jewellery ranges was Butler & Wilson and from the very first show, pictured above, Simon and I just clicked. This was the card he sent me after the show as a thank you, and from that moment blossomed a lovely friendship and an enviable on-air chemistry. He will get several more mentions as we run down the twenty-five years, because he is one of the few brands that has truly stood the test of time.
Alongside Butler & Wilson, we had Buckley London Jewellery, brought to us by Adrian Buckley who now does the majority of the ‘Poppy’ jewellery that we sell to help raise money for the Royal British Legion each year. There was also Suzi B, Kenneth Jay Lane and of course the inimitable Joan Rivers. You really had to be on your toes when working with Joan, as occasionally she would come out with something not quite appropriate, which we as presenters would instantly have to retract. That said, she was one of the most professional people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with on QVC, and despite being a huge star, always treated the presenters as equals. Her range had some stunning watches within it but we also had some great watch brands, including Kahuna (usually presented by Steve Whatley) and Marcel Drucker – anyone remember him?
Another range that had a huge following in the early days was Kirk’s Folly. Jennifer Kirk, who we referred to as the fairy godmother, not only brought us her jewellery but also organised fabulous events, such as tea parties at top London hotels, for her customers. I wonder if any of you attended?
Whilst on the subject of the fairy godmother, I had to share this with you. After we had been on air for about a year, Paul Lavers and I had come up with an idea for a QVC morning show called QVC Today (the forerunner of the current Morning Show, I guess). It had been quite successful and had inspired us to pitch the idea of doing a QVC pantomime to our bosses. Sadly, it never came to fruition, but I thought I’d share the basic premise and list of characters with you. The idea was that it would be an original story with characters from various different pantomimes, plus an extra character… Mrs Bossy! You may have your own idea of who was going to play her (wink wink) but actually, it was me.
Here is what we had planned:
Our story begins in Mrs Bossy’s kitchen (do you remember the old QVC kitchen set?) She is making mince pies and things for the Christmas party and Buttons wants to help, but we all know he isn’t very good in the kitchen. Surely Mrs Bossy won’t shout at Buttons (oh yes she will!) because everyone loves Buttons, don’t they? To get on her good side, Buttons wants to buy Mrs Bossy a piece of jewellery, or maybe something nice for the kitchen, but every time he decides on something, Prince Charming comes up with a better idea…
Buttons – Paul
Mrs Bossy – Julia (i.e. me! – I know, what a cheek!)
Fairy Steve (his suggestion)
Prince Charming – Dave
Tony Blackburn as Himself (yes, THE Tony Blackburn)
Dick Whittington – Katy
Genie of the Lamp – Julian
Wicked Queen from Snow White – Jilly
Woodchopper – Harry Greene
Fairy Godmother – Alison Young
Babes in the Wood – Kara and Glynn Christian
Cinderella – Suzanne
Peter Pan – Debbie
Jack and the Beanstalk – Richard Jackson
It was intended to be a two-hour show and we had some brilliant products lined-up: a baking set, juicer, microwave, cake icing set, Big Green Clean Machine, Medallion silver plating set, glue gun and sticks, a watch, karaoke, a porcelain doll, self tan, a camera, and a collectable glass slipper. Although the cast would be quite different, we could still do it… what do you think?
Of course I can’t talk about 1996 without giving a mention to the Liz Earle range. It first launched in March 1996 with myself and Liz, and the products were in peach and cream packaging. We had a sell-out show in around forty minutes, if I remember rightly, and Liz is another person I have met through QVC who I am still in regular contact with to this day.
I also came across this photo of beautiful Jilly Halliday, pictured in her dressing room in 1996. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit untidy (as is the dressing room she and Ali Young currently share) but spot the Aveda paddle brush on her desk. I still use the range today, even though we haven’t sold it for years.
Just before I finish for this ‘episode’, does anyone remember the Hydron skincare range? To be honest, I had forgotten it, but it was very popular back in the day, guested by the founder of the company Harvey – affectionately known as Hydron Harvey!
More reminiscing in my next blog on Friday,