TV and radio presenter Jenni Falconer is celebrating 20 years in show business. She tells Gabrielle Fagan about her life and family.
Jenni Falconer’s warily looking around what appears to be a perfectly ordinary room, and admits she’s on the look-out for danger.
Danger? What could be lurking in the furniture that could be a threat to the glamorous blonde radio and TV presenter best known for her role on ITV’s This Morning?
“It’s just me, I see danger in everything these days,” she says, hooting with slightly embarrassed laughter and explaining that the cause of her hyper-vigilance is her lively two-year-old daughter, Ella Rose, who will join us shortly.
“Becoming a mum has changed my outlook and I’m a complete health and safety monster. Before I couldn’t have cared less about things like that, but now I’m always scanning wherever we go looking for sharp corners, knives, poison... it’s amazing how much is out there. I’m always going to Ella, ‘Don’t touch, mind your head!’” she says.
“And don’t get me started on when other people’s kids come to visit our house. We take it for granted that Ella’s mastered stairs, so we don’t use a stair gate and she knows never to play on our glass coffee table, but they may not be so aware. I’m always running around making sure everything’s safe for them.”
Maternal worries aside Falconer, 38, clearly revels in parenting and juggles that and her career with a timetable that would leave most of us feeling groggy.
She leaves her home daily at 2am for the studio to present her Heart FM 4 o’Clock Club show (she also fronts the Sunday breakfast show). When that ends at 6am, the fitness enthusiast, who’s taken part in four London marathons, runs eight miles back to her home in South West London.
It’s then full-on childcare, as she takes over looking after Ella from her husband, actor and former Cutting It star, James Midgley, who leaves for work at his film production company.
Her roles as a presenter on the Hub section of the This Morning show and an occasional host on BBC One’s The National Lottery add to the pressure.
“We’ve never considered a nanny or putting Ella into nursery because we both love being hands-on parents, but it’s pretty hectic at times,” she admits.
“It was a huge nightmare when James was away for six weeks filming in Brazil at the World Cup. Luckily my parents and babysitters helped out. Even so, I felt a bit guilty about neither James nor I not being able to be with her but, as every parent knows, along with danger worries, guilt is just another part of the package!”
Even though she enjoys the challenging lifestyle, she can suffer a mid-afternoon energy slump and be temporarily drained of playtime ideas to enjoy with Ella. The Playtime Pocketbook by Chad Valley from Argos, an online guide filled with 100 playtime ideas created by parents for parents, which she launched this summer has been invaluable for inspiration.
“Early starts can take their toll and the Pocketbook’s really come to my rescue. I need a change from Ella’s favourites, catching a ball and pretend cooking, to keep things interesting and exciting for me and her,” she says
The Glasgow-born star, whose accent is as strong as ever, is clearly as ambitious as ever - this year she celebrates 20 years in show business. Following a television debut in 1994 as a contestant on Blind Date, she’s presented a variety of documentary, consumer and travel programmes and co-hosted Entertainment Today on GMTV for eight years from 2000.
“I like the fact I’ve never been pigeon-holed and work-wise I’m always open to going with the flow in life.”
That said, she’s more cautious about considering any personal plans as yet for a sibling for Ella who will be three in September.
“I love being a mum and would like more children but I don’t feel there’s any rush,” she says. “I’ve never been envious of friends who had a couple of kids in quick succession because I can see it can be incredibly tiring when they’re tiny. Also, despite a four year gap between my brother and myself, we’re great friends, while James has a five year gap between his sister and him and they’re also close. We’re content to leave it that if a baby happens for us when it comes to the point we want another child, then it’ll be brilliant.”
More pressing currently is their need to ensure they make time for themselves as a couple. “I start so early every morning that I need early nights and James often works very late, so sometimes we’ll only have an hour together each evening to catch up,” she says with a rueful smile.
“So we try to have one weekend night out on our own and recently for James’ 40th birthday I whisked him off on a surprise trip to New York, just the two of us.”
Patently happy and fulfilled in all areas of her life and glowing with good health, she says the only ailment she suffers from is Raynaud’s, a circulatory problem brought on by cold and changes of temperature.
“Life’s always interesting and watching and helping Ella grow up is wonderful. I’m eventually going to teach her the mantra that my granny taught me about keeping your feet on the ground. Her wise words were, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice’. I really believe in that. You meet people in my profession and others who think the world of themselves and they’re perhaps not the warmest people in the world. I think that’s such a shame - I’d much rather make and have friends.”