Presenter Steph McGovern reveals the pressures of hosting her daily show from her living room, life as a new mum and why she wanted to be Zoe Ball when she was younger!
The thought of hosting a daily hour of live TV from your front room is enough to make most presenters shudder, but Steph McGovern wasn’t fazed.
Following the coronavirus outbreak and strict lockdown rules, consumer journalist and former BBC Breakfast presenter Steph, who was all set to launch her new Channel 4 daytime show from the swish studios of Leeds Docks, decided there was only one thing for it: she’d host it from her Yorkshire home instead.
“It was either postpone it or get on with it and I was itching to get on air so I suggested we do it from my living room” says Steph whose new show; a mixture of entertainment, lifestyle, celebrity chats and advice, launched two weeks ago.
We dialled in for a Zoom chat and caught up with Steph, 37, who’s been on maternity leave following the birth of her baby girl last November, to find out how she’s coping and chat nerves, pressures and why this is a dream come true….
We chat to Steph McGovern
Do you think the show has come at a good time given the current climate?
Steph McGovern: “I’m thinking of it as a ‘positive power hour’ where we celebrate the good things going on, have a little bit of a laugh, do various challenges and also address the serious concerns people have. I’m a consumer journalist so it was also really important to bring in that element too, to help people in whatever way we can with their concerns on debt, self employment, home-schooling whatever people are dealing with at the moment.”
You’d done weeks of preparation for filming in a studio and then everything changed. How stressful has it been to pull everything together in such record time?
“I’m not gonna lie, it’s been stressful because one of the big things I wanted to do was have a live studio audience and have everything centre around them. So yes, it’s been stressful thinking how do make the show about people if I can’t physically be with people. But I’m not going to moan because everyone is having to do things differently now. None of us expected this.”
You are completely by yourself. Is it strange not having a film crew with you?
“Definitely I was very nervous beforehand. I’ve never done anything without a crew around me before so the prospect of being completely alone was very scary but exciting at the same time. In the run up I kept walking round the front room talking to my little succulent plants which have got faces on them, as if they were cameras, just to get in that frame of mind.”
How much tidying up did you have to do to get your home ready for live broadcasting?
“I spent the whole day cleaning it a few days before we went on air and then I just kept looking at bits going, ‘Oh I’ve got to clean that bit too!’. I was constantly going round with spray and cloth, cleaning in a way I’ve never cleaned before!”
With no wardrobe department or hair and make-up on hand is there a chance we’ll see you slumming it on live TV?
“I could have got my neon shell suit from when I was younger! To be honest, I never had a wardrobe department when I was on BBC Breakfast and I’ve always done my own hair and make up for shows like Shop Well For Less so I’m totally used it. I’m sticking my eye lashes on, don’t get me wrong, but that’s about it, and some clothes obviously! Although I’m worried I’m going to run out of clothes.”
You’re a former Irish Dance champion. Will we be seeing any dancing?
“When my editor said, ‘What are we going to do if things go wrong and there are technical hitches?’ I said, ‘I can dance!’ I reckon I can do at least two minutes until I get out of breath. My kitchen is perfect because I’ve got a tiled floor and you can get a good dance rhythm going on it.”
How does it feel to be given your own show with your name in the title and join the likes of Parkinson, Wogan and Graham Norton?
“When Channel 4 said they were going to call it The Steph Show I was like, ‘Oh my Gosh!’ If someone had told me when I was a teenager that I’d have my own show and be on national telly, I don’t think I would have believed them. It’s dead exciting but there’s also a weight of responsibility. If it’s rubbish, that’s my name associated with it! I’m not the side salad any more.”
Did you ever make pretend shows from your bedroom as a child?
“Yes I did. As a kid I used to pretend I was Zoe Ball, I wanted to be her and I was actually on her breakfast show recently for the first time. I was so excited, I phoned up my mum and dad to tell them. When I was a teenager at school, I used to present the news once a week. The school I went to was in quite a deprived area but it got some sponsorship and we had some good TV equipment. I used to present the news as part of assembly with my friend Natasha who now works for CNN.”
What are your tips for people self-isolating out there? How can we fill our time?
“Firstly, watch The Steph Show at midday (laughing) I don’t know because I’m trying to learn this just as much as anyone else. What I’ve found really good is talking to my neighbours from a safe distance. Pretty much every day we’ve done a little coffee morning, where people have been on their doorsteps or stood out on their balconies, and we’ve had a chat. Looking after your head is the hardest thing when you’re social distancing. It’s so important to have conversations. I’m permanently Zooming, and Face Timing people or House Partying, on whatever App. I have a cohort of friends and we pretty much speak every day.”
Your little girl is five months now. How are you finding the challenges of parenthood combined with self-isolation?
“Well the good thing is she’s got no idea that anything’s different so her daily routine hasn’t changed. If anything it’s got better as my partner and I are here all the time to help her. She’s at the age where she’s smiling and laughing so I’m constantly trying to get a laugh out of her. Earlier today I was trying to do the Iggle Piggle dance from In The Night Garden because I thought she’d like that. She looked at me with pure disdain.”
Have you had recent moments where you’ve had a bit of a wobble?
“I’m trying to make the best of the situation, and so far, it’s okay because I’ve been so busy. I’m lucky in that I can stay at home and I’ve got my baby and my partner here. I’m not on the front line in a hospital or at a doctor’s. Keeping sane, well that’s the challenge we all face don’t we, it’s hard for everyone. When you’ve got a newborn baby at various points you kind of question everything in your life. I’m fortunate that I’ve got a brilliant relationship with my partner.”
The Steph Show is on weekdays, Channel 4, 12pm