There are not many people who can count Prince William as a fan, but broadcaster Tina Daheley certainly can. Andrew Peters talked to her about her career, her work ethic and her choice of football team.
Photo copyright: Joseph Sinclair
During the 2015 general election and the 2016 EU Referendum, Tina Daheley fronted a number of debate programmes which viewers described as a breath of fresh air. She’s taken on Crimewatch (co-hosting with Jeremy Vine), BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show (standing in for the host when she’s away) and Breakfast on BBC One at weekends – all in addition to the mornings she does for Radio 1, complete with 5am wake-ups.
Q Tina, you initially toyed with law and computer science, but what made you decide to become a journalist and presenter?
A I would love to say it was my lifelong ambition to be a journalist, but the truth is I didn’t see anyone like me on television growing up, so I would never have dreamed of journalism as a career option. As first generation immigrants to the UK in the 1970s, my parents had always told me I needed to work twice as hard as anyone else in this country to get on, if not harder. I opted for law initially, which I hated, so I switched to computer science. After graduating with a first and turning down PhD funding, I decided to do the unthinkable – a crazy gap year doing a masters in broadcast journalism. The rest is history.
Q You’ve a reputation for hard work. Does that hold you in good stead for your early mornings?
A Not really, you just get used to feeling permanently jet-lagged. During the week it means I squeeze more into my day and end up working very long days as a result. I’m naturally a night owl so find it hard to go to bed early.
Tina with host of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show Nick Grimshaw Photo copyright: David M. Benett
Q How do you find these early mornings, especially at the weekend?
A When I present weekend Breakfast on BBC One, my first alarm goes off at 3.30am (I have staggered alarms, I’m paranoid). That is brutal, but once I’ve had a cup of tea I’m good to go.
Q What was your first big break?
A Getting my first permanent newsreader job on the Radio 1Xtra Breakfast Show with Trevor Nelson.
Q Which person (if any) has been your biggest influence?
A My parents. I get my work ethic from them and they’ve always fully supported my education and career. Before exams I’d stay up until the early hours of the morning doing last minute revision and my mum would stay up with me, insisting on making me food or a cup of tea. It’s sometimes the small things that mean the most. She’d always put us first.
Q Last year you hosted the BBC election night Newsbeat for younger voters. Did you enjoy that?
A I loved it. It really annoys me when people say young people don’t care about politics. They do care, but the fundamental problem is that politics doesn’t look or sound like them. And they find shouty debates a complete turn-off. After my TV election debates, it was massively rewarding to hear from younger viewers that it was the one bit of election coverage they watched from start to finish because a) it wasn’t shouty for the sake of being shouty and b) they actually learnt something.
Q Can you relate to younger people’s current situation of high tuition fees, exorbitant housing costs and zero hour contracts? They sound like challenges you would relish.
A Of course I can relate. I only paid off my tuition fees and student loan debt five or six years ago and I didn’t pay anywhere near as much in fees as students are paying now. And when you add to that mix the rise in insecure work and home ownership being out of reach for most young people, it’s really tough.
Q You’ve a gentler approach to interviewing politicians than certain well-known male presenters. What’s the reasoning behind this style?
A A producer on Panorama once called me an iron fist in a velvet glove and that pretty much sums me up. People are more likely to reveal something new about themselves and let their guard down if they are relaxed. It’s disarming. Too often interviews are about the presenter’s ego.
Q Do you push yourself hard to try and improve all the time?
A Yes, I can’t help it, it’s exhausting!
Photo copyright: Joseph Sinclair
Profile: Tina Daheley
Broadcaster and presenter Tina Daheley’s work stretches across news and current affairs, sport and the arts, appealing to a wide range of diverse audiences. She is perhaps best known for hosting the news and sport to nearly six million listeners every week on BBC’s Radio 1 Breakfast Show alongside Nick Grimshaw.
Tina joined the BBC in 2007 and has presented a wide variety of factual and documentary shows. During the 2015 general election and the 2016 EU Referendum she fronted a number of debate programmes that viewers described as a breath of fresh air. She took on Crimewatch co-hosting with Jeremy Vine, BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show (standing
in for the host when she’s away) and Breakfast on BBC One at weekends – all in addition to the five days a week she does for Radio 1 – and has recently started to present Woman’s Hour on Radio 4.
Tina has interviewed a host of high profile names. Most recently she was invited by The Royal Foundation to host their forum with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Tina was one of the lead presenters for BBC News during the 2017 and 2015 general election campaigns and the EU Referendum, hosting the final election debate on BBC One and leader interviews on BBC Two, Radio 1 Newsbeat and the
BBC News Channel.
Away from news, Tina fronted the BBC presentation team for the London 2012 Olympics and co-presents the hit BBC Three series, Free Speech. Tina also fronted women’s football for BBC Sport. She hosted last year’s Women’s FA Cup Final live from Wembley in front of a record audience and also presented live coverage of England Women’s Euro Qualifiers and The Women’s Football Show. She hosted the Women’s Football World Cup in Canada in 2015.
Q Were you pleased to front the recent interview with the young royals?
A It was massively flattering to be personally asked to do it. When I met Prince William for the first time at Kensington Palace he told me he’d been listening to me on the radio for years and was a big fan, which took me by surprise.
Q You’re extremely versatile and have covered a fair amount of women’s football in recent years. Would you like to cover more sports?
A I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world presenting women’s football tournaments, but I no longer have enough time to fit it all in! The upside is that I can now enjoy watching sport more as a fan.
Q So there appears to be some conflicting information about which football team has your support, so I’ll just ask what gave you the most pleasure, Liverpool making the Champions League final or the changing of the guard at Arsenal?
A Ha! All I will say is that I am an Arsenal fan and my fiancé is a Liverpool fan, so we watched and celebrated Liverpool going through to the Champions League final together. If it was Tottenham, it would’ve been a different story.
Q You’ve got a more than packed work schedule, but what have you lined up in the near future?
A Finally planning and setting a date for my own wedding.
essence infoTwitter: @TinaDaheleyInstagram: @tinadaheley