First Impressions: Julie Etchingham

… is a newsreader and anchor of ITV News at Ten and the Tonight programme. She was voted Presenter of the Year at the Royal Television Society journalism awards in 2010, the first woman ever to win the award, and won again in 2016. She lives in London with her family.

What are you working on at the moment?

News throws up something new every day – it’s the biggest joy of working in it. And inevitably there’s a lot of Brexit and Trump. But I’m also lucky to head up ITV’s Tonight programme, so I get to do longer-form reporting, too. Not very jolly, but I’ve just done a programme on our country’s addiction to prescription opioids. You get to do the serious stuff but also joyous stories, too, like this year’s Royal Wedding.

When are you at your happiest?

Always with my family. I have two boys, aged 15 and 12, and we had a fantastic sailing trip to Kefalonia this summer. Bliss.

What is your earliest memory?

Escaping from our garden by trying to crawl under the fence. I was wearing a yellow dress. Don’t think I was even two years old.

What is your greatest fear?

Bats – can’t even look at a picture of one without getting creeping flesh.

What do you dislike about yourself?

I have no patience. I finish other people’s sentences. I over-commit in my diary, and then hate myself for letting people down – it’s rubbish.

Who has been your greatest influence?

My mother. She spotted I’d been keeping a diary from the age of six and at 13 suggested I might like to be a journalist. It was a lightbulb moment and I’ve never thought of being or doing anything else.

What is your most treasured possession?

I adore the rings my husband bought me to mark the birth of each of our boys. On a busy day, I’ll look at them and think of family.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

Lack of punctuality. I’ve found a lot of us who work to non-negotiable deadlines have this.

Do you have any pets?

We are about to get our first pet – a golden retriever puppy called Wellington. The boys are beside themselves.

Favourite book?

The Great Gatsby – it made me fall in love with American literature. I also love Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It never leaves you.

Favourite film?

Too hard to choose! A Room With a View, The Birds and Doctor Zhivago. But I watched Airplane recently after many years and was still in tears laughing.

Favourite piece of music?

Fauré’s Requiem.

Favourite meal?

Sea bass or rare steak, followed by Queen of Puddings, an old-fashioned pud my mum used to make.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?

My best girlfriends. My husband. At a fantasy dinner I’d love to put Michelle Obama opposite Trump and sit back to see if they even got past the first course.

The nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

I once won an award and was told by a colleague I only got it because I was a woman. Nice.

Do you believe in aliens?

Not in little green men, but who can honestly look out over the universe and doubt there is life in some form, somewhere?

Do you write thank you notes?

Always.

What is your secret vice?

Salty snacks, white wine – not a secret among those who know me best.

Which phrase do you overuse?

‘Wheels up.’ I use this when trying to get out of meetings on time.

What single thing would improve your life?

More sleep. I can only really get a good night’s rest on holiday, when I sort of pass out. Tell us something people might not know about you. I can stand on my head.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

‘She gave it her best shot.’

Julie is hosting Kids for Kids’ Charity Annual Candlelit Christmas Concert on 29 November, St Peter’s, Eaton Square, London: for tickets 07957-206440, www.kidsforkids.org.uk

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