Anthea Turner: "I remember"

Joy Persaud

Anthea Turner is a TV presenter and national treasure. In her 30-year career, she’s appeared on numerous programmes, including Blue Peter, GMTV and Top of the Pops. Here are her personal highlights. 

…our bungalow

It had probably been built around the 1920s by my grandfather. It was a beautiful house. My mum was born in that house, we were born in that house—everybody was born in that house!

My sisters Ruth and Wendy and I all have our birthdays between May 25 and June 6, so we’d always have our birthday parties together in the summer.

I remember lots of little girls running round at the parties—it was very much a family house. We had extensive gardens too and I could probably climb every tree in them. The whole family is very into their gardens.

Read more: 10 Summer garden activities with the grandkids

 

Anthea Turner
Anthea enjoying a family holiday with her mum and her younger sister Ruth

 

…my Northern-Midlands upbringing

It’s an environment where you just get on with stuff, where “that’s the way it is and you better just deal with it”.

It’s a good thing. My sister Ruth was particularly handicapped so nobody ever had the time to be a princess, as there were always other things to deal with.

 

…going to a girls’ grammar school

The headmistress there, Mary Edwards, was quite forward-thinking and inspirational. I’d had a tough time before arriving at that school because I’d been to a large comprehensive where they didn’t deal with anybody who wasn’t on track. This was the 1970s when you were written off as remedial if you had any problems.

Some very good friends of my parents suggested I see Mary Edwards. Of my writing, she said, “Whatever it is, this doesn’t transfer into her vocabulary and she clearly knows all the answers. There’s obviously a problem with her written work and we need to find out what it is.”

She took me on at this grammar school and sent me to an educational psychologist, and they discovered this amazing word that nobody can spell: dyslexia. From then on we were able to deal with it. 

Read more: Dyslexic celebrities share their success stories

 

…being at Blue Peter at a very exciting time

They’d celebrated 30 years so it was one of their landmark birthdays. At the time, we’d end up with 6.5 million people watching—far more than watch now. Those were the glory days of children’s TV.

 

anthea and wendy
Anthea with her sister Wendy

 

..Top of the Pops was good fun

It was an iconic TV programme and it’s great to have done something like that. It was the New Romantic era. Meeting my heroes went with the territory, but it’s not a meet-and-greet—it’s a massive juggernaut. They come on, they do their song, they go off. It’s a factory.

 

…being offered a job at GMTV

I would have preferred to have stayed at Blue Peter, but from a career point of view it wouldn’t have been a good idea.

It’s always very difficult for people to move from children’s to adult TV. So I went to GMTV—and I met some of my dearest friends in the business there, who I’m still very close to.

 

Anthea Turner with her father
Anthea riding in style with her father, Brian

 

…realising I’ll never, ever have thick skin

I’ve been in this business since I was 26, so that’s 30 years, and what’s said in the press will always bother me. Fame is a by-product of the job—you sort of get caught up in this strange life and it can be a feeding frenzy.

Once there was a time when there were just a few newspapers and a couple of magazines out. When I started, Hello! magazine didn’t even exist!

Thankfully, I think the reality stars take the brunt of it now. You either make a decision to get out of it and not have anything to do with it any more, or you just grin and bear it

 

…Somebody once said to me, many years ago

“Aim to be the best and the rest happens.” I’ve always been suspicious of those who chase money.

You can be the best window cleaner, the best car manufacturer, the best mum, whatever. It doesn’t matter what, do your best—you can’t do any more.

 

Read the full feature in the September issue of Reader's Digest magazine

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