The Start of a Wonderful Friendship


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.

Old QVC Kitchen Set

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,

Julia x


  1. Elizabeth keenan May 2, 2018 at 2:41 pm -  Reply

    Hiya Julia
    That’s a wee walk down memory lane, remember Lesley Ebbetts & Paul Havers and of course Simon my husband bought me a teddy bear brooch when Simon had his shop in Glasgow many years ago.
    The pantomime sounds like fun Julia, go on do it.
    Much love
    Elizabeth ?

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 1:54 pm -  Reply

      Hi Elizabeth
      I’m not quite sure how this week of blog replies got missed – better late than never though.
      You are the only one who thinks the panto idea sounds good – apart from me of course!
      Do you still have the teddy bear brooch?
      Julia x

  2. May Brathwaite May 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm -  Reply

    You don’t look a day older. I always enjoy your presentation. Thank you for sharing your Blogg and all the pictures. X

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 1:56 pm -  Reply

      Hi May
      Thanks for your kind compliments.
      I’m enjoying writing this series of blogs as much as people seem to be enjoying reading them
      Julia x

  3. Cathey Johnson May 2, 2018 at 5:01 pm -  Reply

    A lovely idea to look back over the years. I can remember most of these products mainly because my dear mother (no longer here) retired around this time. My father-in-law from the States told her all about QVC USA so she was delighted to have it start here. She was hooked from the start and it became quite an expensive companion. When I look back I realise she got a lot of joy from it all, she’d have loved ‘EasyPay’.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 1:59 pm -  Reply

      Hi Cathey
      I know what you mean about it being an expensive companion but, as you say, if she derived pleasure from her purchases, what price happiness.
      Glad you’re enjoying the look back
      Julia x

  4. Pauline Goodwin May 2, 2018 at 8:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi julia always enjoy reading your blogs I remember the hydron skincare always used it in the early days thought it was great I do often think back to those early years when I started ordering from qvc and what I first ordered it was the nail food and drink and the hydron skincare.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:01 pm -  Reply

      Hi Pauline
      I think Nail eat & Nail Drink were in the top 10 of most ordered products for a while – Supernails generally was a very popular product range.
      Glad you recall Hydron too
      Julia x

  5. Josephine Jennings May 3, 2018 at 7:18 am -  Reply

    Wow Julia, how Qvcuk has evolved over the years .What an incredible journey.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:02 pm -  Reply

      Hi Josephine
      It has indeed been an incredible journey, one I’m proud ( and thankful) to have been part of.
      Julia x

  6. Sandy Hill May 3, 2018 at 11:33 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia, I’ve only been with qvc since 2005 and my first purchase was a Suzi B bracelet, I absolutely loved her range, can you not get her back on? Loved Joan Rivers too, such a talent, xx

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:03 pm -  Reply

      Hi Sandy
      You say ‘only’ since 2005 but that’s 13 years! I’m sure if the Suzi B range still exists – I’m pretty sure Suzi and Erik got divorced?
      Julia x

  7. Jean Fawcett May 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm -  Reply

    Oh my word, I remember all those people, some with us, some not sadly. I have watched QVC since day one. Happy memories.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:05 pm -  Reply

      Hi Jean
      I’m glad my reminiscing blogs are bringing back happy memories – of those past & present. Thanks for sticking with us for the journey
      Julia x

  8. Kay Salisbury May 3, 2018 at 7:23 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia-had to congratulate you on your engagement-this is the first review I have left for about 5 or 6 years-I once asked you about a future wedding and you told me(via your blog) that if it did happen it would probably be on a beach somewhere hot with just you Chris and your children.So glad it is a very real possibility for you now.Keep well and enjoy your big day-wherever it may be.Xxx

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:07 pm -  Reply

      Hi Kay
      Thanks for the congratulations- a beach wedding with just the four of us is still a possibility (I may be forced to add a few to the guest list though)
      Julia x

  9. Hilary May 4, 2018 at 10:48 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia, I always enjoy reading your blogs and also these series of blogs going down memory lane are great, thank you for sharing with us. Always enjoy your presentations on QVC.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:09 pm -  Reply

      Hi Hilary
      So pleased to hear you are enjoying this series of blog – I’m enjoying writing them too and it certainly is making me appreciate all the brilliant locations we visited in the early days.
      Also pleased you enjoy my presentations
      Julia x

  10. Diane May 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm -  Reply

    Thanks Julia, loving your blogs from the early years. Time really does pass so quickly.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:11 pm -  Reply

      Hello Diane
      Time passes even quicker as we get older! Pleased to hear you are enjoying this series of blogs from the early days
      Julia x

  11. MARJORIE JIMMIE May 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm -  Reply

    You have not mention any one of colour We need some balance

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:14 pm -  Reply

      Hi Marjorie
      I believe I’ve mentioned most presenters who have worked at QVC in the early days – please correct me if I’ve missed anyone out
      Julia x

  12. Chris Moran May 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, what wonderful memories of QVC days past…I bought a Kahuna Watch and it was the green dialled one…They were certainly very popular watches of the time and of course Steve Whatley presenting them was very memorable indeed. I find myself thinking back to Julian Ballantyne presenting Big Boys Toys. I purchased a few model cars from those shows as well. There were some really good collectable shows back then and some lovely presenters to boot…I bought and still have the CD you made alongside Mungo Jerry and I am looking at the CD Picture now of you all and smiling as I write this…. You, Debs and Jilly have aged honourably since then and still look as vibrant today as you did back then!! 🙂

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:19 pm -  Reply

      Hi Chris
      I wonder if you read my latest blog with the Mungo Jerry CD mentioned in conjunction with celebrating our fifth anniversary – I like that you put Jilly, Debs & I have aged ‘honourably’ ? Kahuna watches was a big show for us, and of course Paul Lavers also used to present Big Boys Toys as well as Julian – do you remember the guest Gary Ashburn?
      Hope you’ll enjoy and comment on the rest of the series
      Julia x

  13. Sharon May 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm -  Reply

    Dear Julia, I’m loving these memory lane blogs. Question what ever did happen to Suzie b jewellery and Kirk folly. Love the butler and wilson photo. Love from Wicked Sharon.
    Ps did wear the dancing couple on my wedding day.

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm -  Reply

      Hi ‘wicked’ Sharon
      I’m not sure Suzi B jewellery still exists as a brand but I think Kirks Folly is still on QVC US. How fab to wear the dancing couple on your wedding day – lovely model, Ali, decorated her wedding cake with the dancing couple
      Julia x

  14. Pauline wilson May 4, 2018 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    Omg still have several watches which I still wear with pride from Marcel Drucker and jewellery from fires folly oooh this takes me back

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:23 pm -  Reply

      Hi Pauline
      Yes! A Marcel Drucker fan – he was a great character! And Kirks Folly too – happy times with Jennifer blowing her fairy dust and us presenters finding it about our person days later!!
      Julia x

  15. Heather McMillan May 10, 2018 at 10:55 pm -  Reply

    Oh Julia Thank You this was wonderful , and I did remember everyone you mentioned , I still have a Susie B Necklace , and Tons of Butler and Wilson , Kirks Folly and Buckley . Happy Days reading through Thank You x

    • Julia Roberts May 22, 2018 at 2:25 pm -  Reply

      Hi Heather
      Really pleased to hear you are enjoying this series of blogs and that you remember the brands mentioned.
      I hope you’ll continue to enjoy and comment leading up to our 25th Birthday
      Julia x

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