Melanie Sykes - Gaby Roslin

Melanie Interviews: Gaby Roslin

Gaby Roslin is an amazing talent. A mother first, a broadcaster, TV presenter, born communicator and somebody I admire very much. She is eternally positive, always happy and a total inspiration – my kind of woman!

Melanie: How long have you been in the business? I’ve been banging on about being in it for 20 years?

Gaby Roslin: 30 years, it’s my thirtieth anniversary this year.

Melanie: Oh my god, congratulations. That’s incredible. How do you maintain it? It is such a fickle business…

Gaby Roslin: It is, and being a woman is obviously very difficult, but do you know what? It’s my first love, it’s my true love and it’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was three. I’m very lucky, I’ve been doing radio for 7 years now and alongside TV, there has never been a time when I haven’t worked. But that’s not to say I don’t get frustrated.

Melanie: Do you mean frustrated in terms of being able to do the projects you really want to?

Gaby Roslin: Yeah, but I do love working on the Saturday Show, I love doing the Lottery, I’ve been doing that nearly three years now, that’s bizarre, and I love doing my radio show. I’m also standing in for Lorraine again, but what I think I would like to be doing is a daily/evening show. It’s what every journalist, everyone who speaks to me says; they all say, ‘why aren’t you doing that?’. A sort of Ellen type show, that’s what I’d love to do. Because I like to be naughty, even though I think you’ve got to grow old disgracefully and I’m certainly doing that.

Melanie: And you are such a chatterbox – you can talk and you can engage with people.

Gaby Roslin: And I’m nosey, that’s the thing.

Melanie: And when you said you’ve wanted to do it since being three, you mean you wanted to be on TV?

Gaby Roslin: Yeah, it’s all I’ve wanted to do all my life, that’s been it.

Melanie: But why, what did you see that made you think, thats for me?

Gaby Roslin: Well, my Dad was a broadcaster, he’s going to be 82 this year and yet he still does an online radio show. I used to go into the BBC with Dad and walk into Television Centre, holding his hand, and looking up at my Dad and they’d say, ‘Oh hi Clive, how are you’, and I used to imagine that they would say, ‘Gaby Roslin, you’re in dressing room number three’. Then, I used to go and watch Blue Peter. I wanted to do Blue Peter and my Dad knew Valerie Singleton. I used to be able to go onto the studio floor and I knew that was my home, I knew what I wanted to do.

Melanie: I’ve got goosebumps – that is quite something isn’t it?

Gaby Roslin: So when I did ‘Motormouth’, which was a live Saturday morning magazine show, I remember being behind the scenes, hearing them counting down in my ear, saying ’10 seconds until we’re live on air’, and there was a moment where I nearly pooed because I thought, ‘oh my god’. I was 12 when I said I wanted to do this and there I was, 20-something, doing exactly that show.

Melanie: You dreamt it, you wanted it and you got it. When you put it out there it does happen, I do believe in that.

Gaby Roslin: It does… But, also I was told by my parents, follow your dreams, but do not hurt anybody in the process. Never get those sharpened elbows out, never do that, just be good; be a good person. And I think that if you really want something, don’t go out there and be ruthless. I don’t like ruthless, I don’t like tough…

Melanie: You can’t last very long with that attitude. Your attitude is probably the key to your longevity, that and your skills obviously ….

Gaby Roslin: Yes. I believe you should talk to everybody if you’re on a show. The person who sweeps the floor is just as important as your co-host, just as important as your executive producer and I think it’s the same in every business. Whatever job you’re in. If you’re a lawyer, the person that cleans your desk is looking after you just as much as the client. You know? It’s all really important.

Melanie: So the earpiece, the autocue and all that sort of stuff, did you ever audition or practice?

Gaby Roslin: No none of it. I trained as an actor at GSA, there was nowhere else to go. My dad was a broadcaster and he had gone to RADA, so I thought the only way to do this was to go to drama college. I left there and got a job almost immediately for Super Channel, it was the first pan-European satellite station. I saw an advert and I wrote to them, I said ‘I’m a TV presenter’ – I wasn’t. I went along to see them and they said ‘can we see you working with some kids?’, so I went ‘yeah no problem’. So I went back to my old school and I asked if I could go and teach in a class, do games and read them stories. I got one of those big clunky video cameras and my boyfriend at the time filmed me. I took it in and I got the job, and I did that for over a year. Then, I got Motormouth off the back of that.

Whilst doing all this, I had down time where I wasn’t working and I worked for the Emanuel’s, the fashion designers. I saw an advert in the Standard, they wanted an assistant manageress and I went along there. I said I’m a TV presenter, but I need to earn some money while I’m auditioning and David Emanuel said, ‘you can have the job, so long as you never say you are going to the dentist or the doctors, you say you are going for an audition, and when you get that job we’ll celebrate’. I got Motormouth about four months later and he sent me a huge thing of lilies, a bottle of champagne and two champagne glasses, I still have them.

Melanie: So when you were approached about the Big Breakfast ,who approached you and did you already know Chris?

Gaby Roslin: Well, I saw Chris on TV when I was having my make-up done for Motormouth. I used to watch it and go, ‘God he’s clever’, so that’s all I knew of Chris. When I finished Motormouth, literally about a day later, I got a call from my agent saying ‘there’s a new breakfast show, you know, you’ve read about it with Paula Yates and Bob Geldof and they want to see you for an audition’.

Melanie: Wow. Were you excited?

Gaby Roslin: I didn’t really know much about it. The first time I went, I auditioned with Chris and that went on for four months.

Melanie: What did you have to do for the audition?

Gaby Roslin: We did screen tests and fake shows, I did five screen tests for that. On the very last one Chris got very angry, in a very nice way, and just said ‘Will you stop auditioning her? You’ve got to give this girl a job!’. I mean, my life was taken up with those screen tests.

Melanie: Why so many screen tests?

Gaby Roslin: They were doing it between me and somebody else.

Melanie: So how did they tell you?

Gaby Roslin: I remember going into Planet 24 offices, walking through an open plan office and sitting with two of the bosses and the Executive Producer. It was a glass office and they said, ‘right don’t react, don’t make any faces, but you’ve got the job, but we can’t tell anybody in the office because we are going to do a big press release’.

So I had to walk through this open plan office, with people who had seen me at the auditions saying, ‘hi’, and not say a word. I remember walking down the stairs to my then boyfriend’s car. He said, ‘what’s the news?’, and I went ‘you need to drive’, and he went, ‘what…’ and I burst into tears. He said, ‘oh my god, oh my god’, then we got round the corner and I just screamed and screamed. I couldn’t stop properly screaming. I’d had to keep it quiet, which was really odd.

Melanie: Yeah, my god and it’s such a big deal. And this is before you even knew how massive it was going to get.

Gaby Roslin: Nobody knew how massive. Nobody.

Melanie: So your relationship with Chris, my god, was that just so fun?

Gaby Roslin: It’s just worked straight away. Do you know what? As you know, because you’ve co-hosted shows, you can’t fake chemistry. You really can’t. You can watch some TV shows and you think ‘oh they don’t get on at all’.

Melanie: Or they are just not right together….

Gaby Roslin: No, they don’t fit and it just worked from day one. We filled in each other’s gaps and I think it works when you have respect for each other. We never socialised, so we kept it at work. I was never one of the people that used to go out with Chris in the evening and I think that’s what kept it special.

Melanie: Now, I know you love live TV, it’s your absolute passion, isn’t it?

Gaby Roslin: It’s my drug of choice, it’s my addiction. When I did the millennium 28 and I was live for 28 and half hours and I had all these different men – well I didn’t have them…(laughs), but throughout the night they were co-hosting with me. Michael Parkinson, Michael Palin, Jamie Theakston, such different people through the night and they all say, ‘how can you be doing this?’, but I could have carried on. I love live television!

Melanie: Do you ever get the wobbles?

Gaby Roslin: It’s not nerves, I get nervous excited.

Melanie: I’m just curious about all that, because I still get nervous. I see there are people like you, who are very relaxed about it, but there are very few, I think, that can juggle all the things a magazine show throws at you.

Gaby Roslin: Oh, I love it!  I like to have open talk back, which is where you have somebody in your ear all the time talking to you. I like to know what’s going on. I want know everything, even if a guest’s taxi was late. I just like to know everything that is going on. Completely. But, that’s the way I always did it and they never switched it off.

Melanie: God, I only have it on switch, and only want to know what I need to know. I’m crap if I’m on the phone and somebody starts talking to me. My brain is just not wired that way….

Gaby Roslin: Oh my God I am the nosiest person ever. I would be able to tell you what everybody in the restaurant is talking about, whilst still having a conversation and you tell me that you’ve just broken your leg and had a nervous breakdown. I’ll be able to, hopefully, give you sympathy, but still be able to tell you that the woman over there is leaving her husband and that other woman has got thrush. I mean honestly, I’m so nosey.

But, I can’t remember anything. I can’t remember names. Never had been able to and I think the reason I can’t remember names is because on all of the TV shows I did for years, people had name badges. I never had to learn names and now I just look at people’s chest waiting for their name badge. I remember faces, but not names.

Melanie: Congratulations on the Saturday Show. So great to see you on that…

Gaby Roslin: Oh yes, it’s been on since October. It’s funny going back to Saturday morning.

Melanie: Matt Barbet has left hasn’t he?

Gaby Roslin: He does news five days a week and because our show is getting more and more fun, and lifestyle based, he felt the two didn’t fit. Imagine doing a terror alert on a Friday night, then coming in and having to do hoola-hooping with Louie Spence on a Saturday. So now we have the lovely Matthew Allwright, who I adore and I’ve worked with before.

Melanie: You know it’s interesting you talked about age earlier on, about how being in the industry for a long time as a woman is tricky. People are obsessed with age aren’t they?

Gaby Roslin: I have found that, in this industry, you get too old and then you become old enough. So, I was too old for a certain amount of time and I’m now I’m old enough which is incredible.

I’m certainly not worried or embarrassed my age, I’m really proud of my age. There are some who we are not going to name, but you can tell the amount of stuff they’ve pumped into their face. There’s one in particular, that we both know, she does not look like her anymore. I mean it’s really shocking. I just embrace it.

Melanie: Yes there are some people who have just gone too far. It’s just bizarre, isn’t it?

Gaby Roslin: They look shocking now and they say they haven’t done anything. It’s ridiculous, but I find it very sad. I’ve lost too many friends. You know, I lost my mum nearly 20 years ago and I’ve lost three really close friends.

I remember going out with my lovely friend Rachel, she wanted to buy wigs and we just giggled, and she was dying of brain cancer. She didn’t have hair on one side of her head and the hairdresser had done it really nicely, but she said, ‘oh come on let’s go and get a wig’. We went to Selfridges, tried them all on and were proper bellyache laughing, when a woman with a really tight face walked past. Rachel got really, really angry and she said, ‘you know how desperately I would love wrinkles? I’m not going to live. I’m 39. I’m dying and she looks like she’s 14. I would love wrinkles. I would love to grow old, why can’t these people just enjoy their life?’.

Melanie: Wow, that is a devastating reality check. You keep very healthy don’t you?

Gaby Roslin: Yeah, I go to the gym four times a week. I had hip flex problems, so I learnt the Pilates method eight years ago. I don’t have a trainer or anything, but I know what I’m doing. I’ve studied it, my big passion is health and nutrition and I’ve studied it now for over twenty years. Oh it’s my absolute passion.

So I start warm up on bike and when I use the exercise bikes, I do about 20 minutes, but I only meander and warm my body up for the first 5, before going at it, then slowing again. I don’t go nuts, if I did, it would kill me. After the bike I go instantly into core, then I mix it up with free weights, and then my favourite exercise at the moment is floating plank with hands in the rings and feet in TRX. It absolutely kills me!

Melanie: How long do you do that for?

Gaby Roslin: I do three hits of it. I don’t time myself, I just go until I feel dizzy. Then I do the flow ropes, for 30 seconds or a minute, then go back to floating plank. Then I force myself to stretch because it’s so important at my age.

Melanie: You have a good understanding of nutrition, don’t you?

Gaby Roslin: Yes, that’s my big thing. I have an wheat allergy and I get very ill from it. I’ve been asked so many times to do a health book and I’ve been asked to do videos, but I haven’t.

I do advise a lot of people though, I ask them to do a 7-day food diary and they have to be honest with me, because it is just 1-on-1. Usually, just reading through their own food diary is enough to make them realise where their going wrong.

Melanie: Yeah, food diaries are actually quite shocking. I’ve had to do them a few times and even your nibbles, the crap you sometimes eat, can even surprise you. I’m healthy, but not all the time.

Gaby Roslin: Yeah, but you’ve got to do a little bit of what you fancy.

Melanie: Now I want to talk to you about you having a teenager, does Libbi-Jack mind you talking about her?

Gaby Roslin: No, she doesn’t mind, she’s a really good girl. She is a very thoughtful, very kind, amazing big sister. She was an only child when I split up from my first husband and we went everywhere together. She so badly wanted another baby, and then I met David when she was 4. I fell pregnant very quickly.

It’s no secret, everybody knows, after 4 months of knowing David it was a bit of a surprise. On the day Amelie was born she was hysterical, she couldn’t wait to come in to see her. From then on, the two have been inseparable. They are best friends, despite the five and a half years age gap.

So my teenager thinks she is grown up, my nine year old thinks she is a teenager and I probably will stop my periods at the time Amelie has hers. So there are two of us with periods in the house. David is the only man. Even the guinea pig is a girl.

Melanie: It was the same when I was growing up with my Mum and two sisters, my Dad used to complain that “even the dog’s a bitch”. (laughs) Poor man. Poor man. No wonder he lost all of his hair. I have a 14 year old and he is pretty grumpy…

Gaby Roslin: What was the film? Kevin and Perry?

Oh, Libbi-Jack answers back. We don’t know anything. We, her parents, we know nothing. She knows everything. I remember, even thought it’s a long time ago, being a teenager and trying to annoy my parents. I was horrible all the time.

Melanie: Really? I would never have got away with that, you know, my mum was a tyrant. I had to be good.

Gaby Roslin: I remember saying to my Dad at 16, that he just didn’t get Shakespeare. Now, my Dad was a broadcaster, he loves the English language, he’s cultured and very worldly. Both my parents were and they love books. There were books everywhere throughout the house, hordes of books, and they loved theatre. A while after I had said that, my parents told me that they just looked at each and went ‘Oh my God’. I mean, what a brat.


This week Melanie will be joining Gaby on The Saturday Show on Channel 5 – don’t forget to tune in!  You can follow the action during the morning with Melanie on Twitter as well – follow @msmelaniesykes.

You can see Gaby every Saturday on The Saturday Show on Channel 5 from 9.30 -11.30, hear her on BBC London radio show on Saturdays from 3-6pm and on The National lottery Draw, live for the BBC.

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