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The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Katie Derham says confidence helped me beat the bullies

The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Presenter Katie Derham says confidence helped me beat the bullies


Former ITV newsreader Katie Derham, 51, is now a presenter on BBC Radio 3 and the face of BBC Proms. She competed in Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 and hosts podcast Just The Tonic. She lives in Sussex with her husband John Vincent, co-founder of the Leon food chain, with whom she has daughters Natasha, 21, and Eleanor, 16.

It’s important to have confidence in your own opinions and speak your mind so you can challenge others. It was imperative in my job as a newsreader. It’s what I’ve always told my girls: ‘listen, question and challenge.’ But to do that, you must have confidence in yourself.

One of the most formative experiences I ever had was as a 17-year-old, when our whole family moved to Mexico City for half a year for my dad’s job. Before that I’d been bullied at secondary school quite badly. I returned to England more confident, having had this mind-opening experience. When we came back, I had my interview for Cambridge, and the experience I’d had in Mexico helped me stand out and get accepted.

Katie Derham, 51, (pictured) who lives in Sussex, explains the importance of having confidence in your own opinions and speaking your mind, so you can challenge others

When I went to ITN in 1998, I became the youngest newsreader on British television since the 1950s. I was incredibly nervous, of course. I had already worked as a producer on the BBC Radio 4 series Moneybox and as a presenter on BBC’s Film 96, but it was a big step to start questioning public figures. I told myself that I just had to crack on and do it.

On Strictly Come Dancing in 2015, around week six my confidence faltered when people started saying things about me like, ‘Oh you could go all the way.’ I was thinking, ‘What if I mess this up?’

I had a pep talk from a friend who’s a life coach, who helped me get everything back in perspective. Then I started to relax and enjoy it again.

By the time I was named main presenter of the Proms in 2010, I knew I could do the job, and while a few nerves and adrenaline always keep you sharp, happily I just felt extremely blessed to be in a career I love.

  • Katie’s podcast Just The Tonic with Katie Derham can be found across all major streaming platforms and on Acast: shows.acast.com/just-the-tonic 

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