Gaby Roslin exudes confidence when she’s on screen but admits in private, it’s a different story. She reveals to Gabrielle Fagan how she struggles with shyness.
It’s baffling to hear the exuberant Gaby Roslin protesting that, at heart, she’s really shy.
After all, this popular radio and TV presenter has had a very successful 27-year career in the public eye engaging with millions on air and on screen. Currently she’s presenting BBC One’s National Lottery draws, has joined the team on the third series of BBC One’s Food Inspectors (May 15) going on the trail of rogue restaurateurs and exposing what’s really in our food, and for the past three years, she’s also had her own successful radio show.
So hardly a shrinking violet then?
“I know it sounds crazy but I can be terribly shy and self-conscious and literally hate walking into parties on my own. I was painfully shy as a teenager and sometimes it comes back to haunt me,” she insists, before revealing that her husband, David Osman, has been key in helping her cope with the problem.
Roslin met Osman, a publisher, in 2006 and they married last year. They have a daughter, Amelie, seven and she also has a daughter, Libbi-Jack, 12 from her previous marriage to Scottish musician, Colin Peel.
“When I first met David, he asked me to a party and I point blank refused because I just couldn’t face going into a room filled with lots of people I didn’t know.
Oddly, the next night we were at a charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall and minutes before it started one of the organizers rushed up to me and said, ‘thank goodness you’re in the audience! Please can you step in and host the evening because the presenter’s suddenly gone down with food poisoning?’. I didn’t think twice and did it.
Afterwards, David was flabbergasted and said, ‘ how can you do that without any preparation, which for most people would be completely nerve racking, but not go to a small party?’.
“Now he totally gets that when I’m ‘performing’ it’s completely different to being me - the day-to-day mother-of-two; a sort of mechanism takes over. Many really well-known stars who I’ve talked to on my radio show have admitted they’re the same.
“So these days I often hold David’s hand very tightly hand as we walk into big social events or parties. That gets me over the threshold. It helps dispel that fear that my mouth won’t open because I won’t have anything to say - despite the reality being that generally I never stop talking!”
She’s certainly not lost for words when it comes to food and healthy eating, a long-held “obsession” that stems from a troubling family history of cancer. Seventeen years ago, when Roslin was in her early thirties, she lost her mother, Jackie, 72, to lung cancer. Her father, former BBC radio presenter, Clive Roslin was also battling bowel cancer at the same time, but is now in remission.
“Sometimes I’ve felt as though cancer was stalking me and I decided after mum died to absolutely make it my job to really study nutrition and food so that I could keep myself as healthy as possible. I became so aware of the effect of what we put into our bodies. It was really frustrating that for years before nutrition became fashionable, I was regarded as a ‘food faddist’,” says Roslin, who promises that in the new series of Food Inspectors there will be uncomfortable revelations about bacon, ham, chicken nuggets, and to her dismay, her favourite dessert, icecream.
“I’m certainly not a saint - let’s be honest, I’m jolly glad we didn’t investigate anything about alcohol as I love a glass of wine at night to unwind,” she jokes.
“But it’s satisfying that things I’ve been going on about for years which had people regarding me as ‘weird’ or a health-nut - the dangers of sugar, the benefits of foods with a low glycaemic index, and the dangers of overuse of antibiotics - are all now widely accepted.”
Her own diet doesn’t include wheat - she’s allergic - and she never eats red meat, pork or shellfish and is super-conscientious about her family eating organic ingredients.
It clearly works, because she certainly radiates health, with glowing skin and a mane of glossy blonde hair. Perhaps as a result, she has no qualms about her milestone 50th birthday in July, despite the fact that ageing is not generally perceived as an advantage for women in showbusiness.
“I’ve never lied about my age or worried about it and I’m not going to start now. I’ve been through some horrible times like mum dying and losing several friends in their forties to cancer so I feel ‘do you know what, ageing is better than the alternative!’.
“I just feel lucky to be alive, and so what if I have a few wrinkles and have to dye my hair to keep it blonde,” she says.
“Anyway as far as I’m concerned age is just a number. I feel about 33 in my head, and I’m probably fitter than I was in my thirties as I go to the gym four times a week so I can keep up with my lifestyle and the kids.
After beginning her career as a presenter on children’s TV show, Motormouth and finding fame in the Nineties co-hosting Channel Four’s The Big Breakfast with Chris Evans, she is proud that she’s never been “one of those female presenters who are so glamorous they sort of frighten other women.
“Someone came up to me on the street the other day and said ‘you’ve always been around haven’t you, you’re like a member of the family.’ I took that as a huge compliment. I’m fortunate in that I’ve never been out of work and have been able to keep a balance between that and the family.”