SHE could be the oldest feminine presenter on day by day tv within the UK, however golden-haired octogenarian Gloria Hunniford isn’t the form of individual to be outlined by a quantity – even when she doesn’t fairly just like the look of it on paper.
Having celebrated her eightieth birthday in April this yr, the Unfastened Girls and Rip Off Britain presenter is busier than ever and due to the wonders of Zoom and Skype – in addition to having broadcasting “package” despatched to her residence in Kent – she hasn’t missed a single programme throughout lockdown.
“I don’t actually really feel any totally different, being 80,” she says brightly, “however I really feel I might collapse if I do not take my nutritional vitamins. Sure, age is only a quantity, however I’ve to say, if I am writing it down on a medical kind or one thing, I actually do not just like the look of it… The one benefit I can see, up to now, is that I will likely be one of many first in line for the vaccine – I positively cannot wait to have it.”
Not that it has been a simple yr for the Portadown-born broadcaster who’s “flattered” to be the topic of a brand new upcoming BBC documentary, Gloria: My Life on TV. Her husband, Stephen Manner, was efficiently handled for prostate most cancers and likewise suffered a fracture in his backbone after falling whereas dashing to keep away from an oncoming taxi in central London.
Gloria and husband Stephen Manner
However, with well being issues for Stephen diminishing by the day and a brand new coronavirus vaccine inside jabbing distance, the lady credited with being a trailblazer for feminine broadcasters, needs to sit back and have a good time a brand new yr by having her first tattoo.
It can, she affirms with amusing, be a sneaky “little butterfly” – however she’s not going to have it performed simply but.
“I’m going to the get the vaccine first after which I’m going to get the tattoo,” she reveals. “It’s humorous, Caron [Gloria’s late daughter, Caron Keating, who died from cancer in 2004] used to beg me to let her have a tattoo; she would play methods on me by getting a pretend one. I used to be so in opposition to her piercing her ears and being tattooed, and right here I’m, in my later life, and the one factor I need is somewhat butterfly tattoo.”
It’s perhaps one other instance of what Gloria’s son, Michael Keating, describes within the documentary as his mom’s assured and somewhat “defiant” spirit, first demonstrated when she fought her dad and mom to attend grammar faculty in Portadown and later when she married her first husband, the late Don Keating, in opposition to their needs on the time.
In Gloria: My Life on TV, the nonetheless down-to-earth presenter remembers the circumstances of her first marriage with candidness and a sure unhappiness, but additionally with generosity and a willingness to forgive.
Coming from a Co Armagh Protestant household, it was a “little bit of a shock” for Gloria’s father, Charlie – a newspaper promoting supervisor by day and magician by night time – to search out out that Don was a Catholic and the sensation was such that each dad and mom refused to attend their daughter’s marriage ceremony.
“It was very unhappy for me, however dad actually got here to adore Don they usually turned very shut, so he by no means held a grudge and nor did I,” says the award-winning presenter who rose from reporting from bomb blasts in Belfast to having her personal Radio 2 programme and tv chat present, Sunday, Sunday.
Gloria Hunniford together with her first husband, the late Don Keating, and their daughter Caron, who died from most cancers in 2004 at age 41. Image by BBC/DoubleBand Movies
In addition to members of the family, mates from the media and celeb world are interviewed for the documentary which paints a revealing, intimate image of the much-admired mom and grandmother for whom singing was her sole early ambition – she solely fell into broadcasting accidentally, because of the Lulu tune, Are You Prepared for Love.
Gloria’s rendition had turned out to be a little bit of successful in Northern Eire within the late 60s and when she was invited to speak about it on a BBC programme in Belfast, producer Dan Gilbert observed her broadcasting potential, noting she didn’t “appear to be wanting a phrase or two”.
Her ‘reward of the gab’ as they are saying, has held her in good stead ever since and lots of of her celeb mates pay tribute, together with Daniel O’Donnell – who reveals she will “nonetheless maintain a tune” – long-time pal Cliff Richard, and presenters Ruth Langsford and Christine Lampard who describe her warmly as a trailblazer for girls in broadcasting at present.
Previous good friend from Good Night Ulster days, Eamonn Holmes, additionally makes an look, quipping that the present on which they each made their names ought to actually have been known as ‘Good Night Gloria’ as a result of she had “sprinkled showbiz mud” on it from the beginning.
Gloria Hunniford says that after she will get the coronavirus vaccine she goes to get a tattoo. Image by DoubleBand Movies
When it comes to that ‘showbiz mud’, Gloria has interviewed all the large stars of the day, from a pleasant Audrey Hepburn and a frail Bette Davis, to a monosyllabic Robert Mitchum, and an unpredictable, madcap Freddie Starr who as soon as broke by way of set screens to achieve the interview chair.
“What I found fairly early on in my profession is that if somebody is doing one thing a bit risque or taking you unexpectedly, there’s no level being prissy about it,” says the presenter, who’s recognized for her meticulous analysis. “It’s a must to associate with it, so I simply realized to snicker with them. I fairly preferred it when visitors did one thing uncommon as a result of it added to the programme and the general public prefer it too – they like issues going fallacious and it will possibly make unbelievable tv.”
One in all her favorite interviews was in 1993 with Doris Day; an actress and singer she had admired ever since devouring her movies throughout weekly journeys to the ‘photos’ in Portadown. It was the late film star’s first interview since 1968 and he or she opened up concerning the abuse she had suffered in her first marriage.
“They flew me out to California to fulfill her – strolling a seashore with Doris Day; it doesn’t actually get significantly better than that,” admits the ever-glamorous journalist and chat present host who has additionally penned a number of books, together with 2017 memoir My Life and Subsequent to You, a poignant tribute to daughter Caron’s braveness and the unbreakable mother-daughter bond.
Gloria together with her late daughter Caron Keating
Following Caron’s tragic dying at 41, Gloria started to see random white feathers in uncommon locations and he or she believes these have been – and nonetheless are – her beloved daughter’s calling card. The newest was noticed after returning residence from a hospital go to with Stephen when “the largest feather” was mendacity on the mat at their entrance door.
“Caron appears to be sending the feathers, in my thoughts anyway, in any respect kinds of occasions, whether or not she’s wishing you good luck or simply saying, ‘I’m right here with you’,” she says. “I discover it very comforting.”
On the “difficult” age of 80, she says she thinks about her personal mortality somewhat extra usually now however together with her reveals recommissioned till 2022, Gloria Hunniford is decided to get her vaccine, get her tattoo and face no matter lies across the subsequent nook with trademark resilience, good humour and professionalism.
“I’ve in my head, three rating years and 10, so in fact you consider it, however not in a morbid means,” she says. “I need to be buried with my shoulder pads – ultimately. However, for now, I like my life and I nonetheless need to dwell it.”
:: Gloria: My Life on TV will likely be screened on BBC1 at 9pm on Monday, December 28, and also will be out there to view on iPlayer.
Gloria Hunniford’s life in broadcasting is widely known in – Gloria – My Life On TV. Image by DoubleBand Movies