Yesterday I was in Liverpool for a tea party to celebrate QVC's 20th birthday. The venue was the Beatles themed 'Hard Days Night Hotel' and, as I checked in on Wednesday night, they were playing my favourite Beatles tune 'She's Leaving Home'.
It really focussed my mind on what a long time twenty years is and how much has happened in my life since I started at QVC, including my own daughter, Sophie, leaving home.
Sophie and Daniel were five and six respectively when I arrived at Marco Polo House for my first day of work on September 4th, 1993. That day was all about meeting the other 'faces' of the new shopping channel and having our publicity shots done.
They were unable to get a shot of all of us together as Paul Lavers was living in Norwich at the time working for Anglia TV as the overnight continuity announcer, Mr. Midnight, so he didn't arrive until the early afternoon, by which time Kara Tritton had left for her job on local BBC radio.
It was a Saturday so I wasn't working on my 'other' job presenting a magazine-style programme for my local cable television provider. I continued working there for the first two years I was at QVC, along with shooting features for Sky Sports and bringing up two small children. When I think back now I have no idea how I had the time or the energy!
Those of you who have been with us since 2pm on October 1st will recognise the line-up of the original seven presenters, and you will also probably remember that we only broadcast for a few hours a day in our first few weeks. We used to present quite a lot of jewellery shows (my first show was jewellery) as well as collectibles, kitchen equipment, DIY and dolls.
Our first four weeks at QVC were a mixture of training with experts for the products we were going to be presenting and learning the actual job of being a shopping television presenter, which involved watching a lot of the American output. Although we followed the basics of what QVC America were doing we quickly developed our own friendlier 'over the garden fence' style, which I'm pleased to say was later emulated by the US.
To digress a moment, our trainer for jewellery was none other than Jan Springer who, I'm pleased to say, I have a three-hour gold show with on Sunday afternoon from 3pm.
As October 1st, 1993, approached we were all getting very excited but also quite nervous. There was a lot of media interest surrounding the fledgling shopping channel and I think that was one of the reasons that the 'powers that be' at the time decided to record the opening sequence that launched the channel, rather than it going out live, as they realised it was a moment in history that would be viewed many times over the following years.
Let's face it, we show that piece of footage with myself in the infamous blue jacket and my fellow launch presenter, Jon Briggs, seemingly looking down my top, every birthday - I guess they'll wheel it out again this year too! I'm not sure I realised what a momentous occasion it was and how it would change the face of shopping in the UK irrevocably but Jon did, as you can see from his little note to me.
I thought I would also share the Good Luck card that Chris and the children sent me, which I unearthed when I had to clear my dressing room in June 2012 for the move to Chiswick Park. I'm so glad I kept it.
I also found the first-ever QVC Christmas card and I believe the only one where we were all actually photographed together. I was nearly missing from that card as it was photographed on a Friday morning and I presented my cable show, 'Palace Chatback', on a Friday. I had to drive in to QVC, have the photo taken and then rush off to Croydon for my show.
It was taken on the old lounge set, I wonder how many of you remember it? If you are wondering why we have never all been photographed at the same time for subsequent Christmas cards, it's because the broadcast hours of the channel increased throughout 1994 and there always had to be a presenter live on air.
There have been so many changes over the last twenty years; Q Cut, the website, the QVC apps, etc., that I could write a book….and probably will one day. For me personally there are a few more wrinkles (not many, thanks to the advice of the brilliant Alison Young) and I now need glasses for reading! My hairstyles have changed a bit over the years too as you can see from the various publicity cards I've had down the years - I wonder which one you like the best?
I just wanted to finish by saying a BIG thank you to each and every one of you for shopping with us. I am acutely aware that without your custom there would be no QVC. And I also wanted to thank all of you who have sent me letters and cards over the years, and who post on here and tweet me. It has always meant a lot to me but over the last few months, which haven't been easy, your support has been particularly appreciated.
I have my regular date with fashion today at 5pm, the show I inherited from Steve Whatley when he moved on to pastures new, and I'm with Fiona from Decleor at 7pm. Also don't miss the FABULOUS TSV from L'Occitane launching at midnight with Jill Franks. I'm with Alexis tomorrow afternoon at 4pm and it's all about my favourite Almond Shower Oil.
Here's to the next twenty years of QVC. That would make me 77 so I don't think I'll be sharing it with you on air, but I'll join your ranks as a QVC shopper.