Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My mum’s side of the family is Nigerian and my dad’s are from Newcastle – they’re Geordies through and through. I grew up in Heaton where I lived until the second of my three brothers was born. As the family got bigger we then moved out to Minsteracres for a bit more space and country air. I went to Dame Allan’s School – those years were just fantastic. I also attended night classes alongside school so I could get an additional Spanish A Level.
Do you have any funny memories from growing up?
I think everyone goes through those years where you’re just not sure what to do with yourself. You’re not quite old enough to go clubbing or to pubs, even though you really wish you could. Big groups of us would go into town down by the Quayside or to Osborne Road and discuss in depth whether wearing scarves and jackets made us look like we were Southern (and therefore probably uni students, and therefore probably over 18) so we could get into clubs. We’d also go to the Starbucks near Monument and all sit around one hot chocolate, too nervous to talk to the boys in the group.
What do you miss the most about home?
I miss the atmosphere of the North East, the people and the vibe. We love good music, food and drink, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Geordies are kind and talk to each other in the street even if we don’t know one another. We laugh loudly and live vibrantly. I miss how clean the air tastes and I miss having the beautiful Northumberland countryside on my doorstep and swimming in the freezing cold sea at Whitley Bay.
What do you get up to when you come home to visit?
Life in London is incredibly full-on and hectic, the work here is great, but it’s constant, so I tend to spend most of my time when I go home just relaxing with my family. We’ll go and visit my uncle and cousins in Shotley Bridge and in Jesmond, and visit the pub I used to work in called the Punch Bowl for a Sunday roast. My uncle also has a food stall where my family help out down by the Quayside, and it’s that view of the bridges as the train pulls into Central Station that gives me goosebumps every time; I’m always so excited to be home.
How did you get the job at Capital FM?
I started in print journalism as a reporter for the Argentina Independent in Buenos Aires, covering Latin American current affairs, and it was there I got my first show for MTV. I worked with MTV News and got some amazing experience interviewing stars, which led to a news and entertainment reporter role at ITN, and then Sky One, Channel 4, ITV, 4Music, Channel 5, Disney Channel, BT Sport, Sky Sports and ITV2. TV’s always been my main job, but it was last year while presenting a Sunday afternoon TV show for ITV2 called 2Awesome alongside Roman Kemp that the bosses at Capital saw us working together and wanted to try us as a duo – it was from there that we bagged the breakfast show.
What’s the most fun thing about your job?
Myself, Roman and Sonny are very close, and we and the producers get on so well – at 5am every morning you have to. It’s like being with your best friends (or perhaps they’re more like brothers) every single day. We laugh together, they’ve wiped my tears through heartbreaks, and we play a lot of pranks on each other. It’s that camaraderie and friendship that’s the best thing about the job.
When did you get the news about Strictly Come Dancing?
Getting the news about Strictly was a bit of a whirlwind, I wasn’t expecting it at all and it’s crazy because it’s such a huge show that’s so loved by so many, myself included. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing, but it felt like a far off fantasy and I have to keep pinching myself because I can’t believe how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I’m also feeling extremely nervous, in fact, I’m petrified. It’s scary to do something so far out of your comfort zone, in front of so many people, and be judged for it. But it’s also so exciting, I feel honoured to be a part of it and can’t wait to get working hard.
Have you danced before?
I used to do contemporary dance while I was at school. The teachers at Dame Allan’s – Mrs Clough and Mrs Turnbull – were amazing and I loved it so much, but it was over a decade ago, and contemporary dance is nothing like the styles you do on Strictly. The techniques and the steps for Latin and Ballroom are completely new to me, and the level is way beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.
How will you prepare for the show?
I am going to practise so much, work so hard and eat loads. We’ve only rehearsed for a couple of days so far and my appetite has gone mad. I’ve not sweated so much in my life, so I think it’s going to be a case of all of us really needing to make sure we look after ourselves and get plenty of sleep (easier said than done with the 4.30am wake up times).
What are you most excited about?
Well on the first day I was beside myself at the prospect of being close to Faye from Steps. I was pretty embarrassing actually, I fangirled a bit and clammed up. It’s crazy to be in a room with all these celebrities. I have tremendous respect for Stacey Dooley, she’s basically one of my broadcasting idols, Faye, Lee Ryan and Ash were all in bands with songs I knew every single lyric to, Danny John Jules is a living legend; Katie Piper’s a massive inspiration. I can’t pretend I have the profile of the following of these lovely people, but it’s an honour to be – and dance – amongst them. I’m taking it one step at a time and having the best experience ever.