Leeds-based Channel 4's Steph's Packed Lunch star on a whirlwind year since leaving the BBC

It has been a whirlwind year for Steph McGovern since leaving the BBC.

Sunday, 3rd January 2021, 9:08 am

The Steph Show - which has since been renamed Steph’s Packed Lunch - was one of the first commissions following Channel 4’s move to Yorkshire that was visibly made in the region fronted by a Northerner.

The show, which returns tomorrow, first aired from the Middlesbrough native’s Yorkshire home in early spring when the first peak of coronavirus had set in.

But McGovern, 38, is taking 2021 as it comes.

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Steph McGovern presenting Steph's Packed Lunch from Leeds.

She told The Yorkshire Post: “I’m just hoping that we continue to grow and we continue to experiment with things and we still have that family feel of the regular faces that people have come to watch on the show and love now.”

She added: “I’ll be honest, 2021 still feels like a massive year of unknowns, it still feels like there’s so much uncertainty so I’m actually taking time week by week.”

McGovern considers herself a private person and had made only a half-serious suggestion of launching the show from her home but within a few days, her house - which she had recently moved to with her partner and baby - was being rigged up with camera gear for the launch.

She said: “I think it will probably hit me in a couple of years, what we did, but at the time it was just ‘let’s do it’. Do what we can and broadcast live every day and do what we can.”

Middlesbrough native Steph McGovern, who lives in Yorkshire.

It has since moved into the intended studio at Leeds Dock.

The journalist said: “Relief is what I felt when we got into the studio. Relief. And also, it might sound a bit cheesy, but just dead proud of us being able to broadcast a live show every day and be Covid-secure, and have people in the studio.”

Famous friendly faces have become regulars on Steph’s Packed Lunch, including those with links to Yorkshire.

Fellow Middlesbrough native and former Leeds United, Sheffield United and Bradford City footballer Chris Kamara often appears on the show, as does Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton du Beke.

Irish model Vogue Williams has also entered the mix along with non-celebrity regulars.

The show has had its share of emotional moments, including in October last year when the host and Kamara ended up in tears as he opened up about racism he had faced growing up in their home town.

It was a bold move to pit the show against long-established shows such as Loose Women, and along the way came the expected press claims that the show could be axed.

Channel 4 came out in defence of the show, however, saying that daytime shows always take time to build their audience.

McGovern said: “I didn’t actually read any of those articles because I was expecting them. So before we even launched the show I was really supported by Channel 4 who said ‘There will probably be articles saying various things, just don’t take them to heart, we really support you, we’re going to give this show a chance’, and that’s exactly what happened.

“I totally get that we’re a brand new show, we’re up against shows that have been going for years (with) strong audiences so I never expected to come in and suddenly be bigger than the other shows, I think it’s just a case of being allowed to grow and that’s what we’re doing.”

She added that she came from BBC Breakfast - which she left in January last year after eight years - which has millions of viewers every day and “I knew full well that I was going to show that probably wouldn’t have that and that’s fine, because this was about just doing something different...”

One of the strangest things about the move from the BBC, she said, is that she can now air an opinion.

She said: “It is liberating although I’m still a bit, like, tentative about it, because I’m still like ‘Well, am I really allowed to give an opinion?’”

Steph’s Packed Lunch returns to Channel 4 tomorrow at 12.30pm.